Gordon Giesbrecht, the professor of environmental physiology at the University of Manitoba says wind chill is something to be aware of if you’re taking a trip outside your house.
“Wind chill is an interesting thing, you go outside with a bare hand or bare face and you feel cold because it’s -20 C. But if you put your hand out into the wind and it’s -20 C, the air temperature is still -20°C, but your hand feels a lot colder because the wind is blowing against your hand and taking heat away,” he said.
Giesbrecht took a video illustrating this phenomenon on Sunday, showing his hand exposed to the cold with an infrared camera.
He shows the wind cooling off the temperature of his hand.
“Dark colours are cold and light colours are warm in this situation and you can see the hand mostly light, meaning it’s a cold hand behind a garage and when you step into the wind you see the hand cool off. The temperature is the same but the heat loss to the hand is much greater and of course you’re much more likely to get to a temperature when your hand could get frostbitten much quicker,” he said.
Due to the current COVID-19 health measures, reduced capacity limits in stores and malls mean more people have had to line up and wait outside to get in to shop.
Giesbrecht says this can be especially dangerous because many of those people may not have been dressed for the elements.
“The number one thing before you go is to check what is the wind chill, because in this case, it’s relevant because you’re going to be standing outside in the parking lot where there is no protection from the wind. Just dress for that. Put mitts on and have a parka with a hood on and have it up and wear your winter boots or the thickest boots you have and not your running shoes because you may be outside in it for half an hour,” he said.
The Global News forecast for Winnipeg shows a Wednesday morning low of -29 C, but with wind chill it’s -41 C.
On Thursday morning the low is -33 C, but with wind chill it’s -44 C.
Giesbrecht says with these cold temperatures people need to be doing what they can to prevent frostbite.
“The issue with wind chill is even if it’s -20 C, when you add the wind to it, it increases heat loss and cools your skin faster to that dangerous temperature.
“There are two ways to prevent [frostbite], one is just to wear better clothing, the other is just to note a major danger sign is numbness of your skin. Never accept numbness.”
“If your skin is numb, it’s a major warning sign your skin is getting cold enough of being at risk of frostbite.”