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Winter cold safety and wind chill chart

(WJRT)
Published: Nov. 9, 2017 at 9:34 PM CST|Updated: Apr. 14, 2021 at 10:30 AM CDT
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Winter storms cause more damage and kill more people every year in Wisconsin than tornadoes, lightning, and floods. In 2018, 75 people died from cold exposure -- a 36-percent increase over the previous few winters -- according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Winter weather has many dangers. Storms bring snow, ice, and freezing winds that can knock out power and shut down roads. Cold brings black ice and frostbite.

Prolonged exposure to extreme cold can cause frostbite or hypothermia (infants and the elderly are most susceptible). Below you’ll find tips for winter safety whether you’re indoors or outdoors, and how to recognize signs of frostbite and hypothermia.

Watches and Warnings

Winter Storm Watch

Severe winter conditions, such as heavy snow and/or ice are possible within the next day or two. Prepare now!

Winter Storm Warning

Severe winter conditions have begun or are about to begin in your area. Stay indoors!

Blizzard Warning

Snow and strong winds will combine to produce blinding snow (near zero visibility), deep drifts, and life-threatening wind chill. Seek refuge immediately.

Frost/Freeze Warning

Below freezing temperatures are expected and may cause significant damage to plants, crops, or fruit trees.

Effects of the Cold

Frostbite

Frostbite is a severe reaction to cold exposure, and can cause permanently damage. Symptoms include a loss of feeling, and a white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, or nose and ear lobes.

Hypothermia

Hypothermia is a condition that occurs when the body temperature drops below 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Symptoms include uncontrollable shivering, slow speech, memory lapses, frequent stumbling, drowsiness, and exhaustion.

Treatment

If frostbite or hypothermia is suspected, begin warming the person slowly and seek immediate medical assistance.

Warm the person’s trunk first. Use your own body heat to help. Arms and legs should be warmed last because stimulation of the limbs can drive cold blood toward the heart and lead to heart failure.

Put the person in dry clothing and wrap their entire body in a blanket.

Never give a frostbite or hypothermia victim something with caffeine (like coffee or tea) or alcohol. Caffeine is a stimulant and can make the heart beat faster, hastening the effects of the cold on the body. Alcohol is a depressant and can slow the heart, also hastening the ill effects of cold body temperatures.

Winter Safety Tips

For the Elderly

  • As we get older, we’re more sensitive to the cold
  • Find a buddy to check on your daily in person or by telephone
  • Stay active. Sitting in one place can make you colder
  • Ask a friend or relative to de-ice or shovel your walkways and porches to avoid a fall

When Inside

  • Use proper precautions when using alternate heating, such as a fireplace, wood stove, or electric heater, including proper ventilation and keeping flammables far away
  • Eat. This helps your body produce its own heat
  • Avoid alcohol, which can make your body lose heat
  • Close off unused rooms to conserve heat
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing. Remove layers to avoid perspiring

When Outside

  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing in several layers
  • Wear a hat, particularly one that covers your ears
  • Wear mittens. These are better than gloves because they keep the fingers close together
  • Find shelter
  • Try to stay dry and cover all exposed parts of your body
  • Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold
  • Do not eat snow. It lowers your body temperature. Let it melt first

Winter Storm Survival Kit

Fully check and winterize your vehicle before the winter season begins. Carry a Winter Storm Survival Kit, which should include:

  • 1 blanket or sleeping bag for each person
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Knife
  • High-calorie, non-perishable food
  • Small can and waterproof matches to melt snow for drinking
  • Bag of sand or cat litter
  • Shovel
  • Windshield scraper and brush
  • Booster cables

 

The Wind Chill Index below shows what cold weather accompanied by wind feels like against exposed flesh.

Equivalent Temperature (“feels like”)

Calm

40

35

30

25

20

15

10

5

0

-5

-10

-15

-20

-25

-30

-35

-40

-45

5 mph

36

31

25

19

13

7

1

-5

-11

-16

-22

-28

-34

-40

-46

-52

-57

-63

10 mph

34

27

21

15

9

3

-4

-10

-16

-22

-28

-35

-41

-47

-53

-59

-66

-72

15 mph

32

25

19

13

6

0

-7

-13

-19

-26

-32

-39

-45

-51

-58

-64

-71

-77

20 mph

30

24

17

11

4

-2

-9

-15

-22

-29

-35

-42

-48

-55

-61

-68

-74

-81

25 mph

29

23

16

9

3

-4

-11

-17

-24

-31

-37

-44

-51

-58

-64

-71

-78

-84

30 mph

28

22

15

8

1

-5

-12

-19

-26

-33

-39

-46

-53

-60

-67

-73

-80

-87

35 mph

28

21

14

7

0

-7

-14

-21

-27

-34

-41

-48

-55

-62

-69

-76

-82

-89

40 mph

27

20

13

6

-1

-8

-15

-22

-29

-36

-43

-50

-57

-64

-71

-78

-84

-91

45 mph

26

19

12

5

-2

-9

-16

-23

-30

-37

-44

-51

-58

-65

-72

-79

-86

-93

50 mph

26

19

12

4

-3

-10

-17

-24

-31

-38

-45

-52

-60

-67

-74

-81

-88

-95

55 mph

25

18

11

4

-3

-11

-18

-25

-32

-39

-46

-54

-61

-68

-75

-82

-89

-97

60 mph

25

17

10

3

-4

-11

-19

-26

-33

-40

-48

-55

-62

-69

-76

-84

-91

-98

Color Key: Frostbite occurs within
30 minutes 10 minutes 5 minutes
Formula: Wind Chill (oF) = 35.74 + (0.6215*T) – (35.75*(V0.16)) + (0.4275*(T0.16))
T = Air Temperature (oF) V = Wind Speed (mph)