Based on the NWS Wind Chill and Defence R&D Canada – Toronto freeze table, a quick guide to assessing your personal temperature for risk:
Windchill Risk of freezing
Wind temperature in relation to freezing weather :
(temperature in degrees F)
32-16 (low risk)
14-17 (moderate risk)
-18 to -38 (high risk) 10 to 30 minutes.
-40 to -52 (very high risk) 5 to 10 minutes.
-54 to -65 (severe risk) 2 to 5 minutes.
-67 or colder (extreme risk) for less than 2 minutes.
Note that the freezing time increases faster when the wind temperature drops below -17.
(source of data)
The wind chill chart below is a temperature index that shows exactly how cold the air feels on a person’s skin.
The wind chill graph also includes an indicator for frostbite. It indicates the temperature at which wind speed, combined with the duration of skin exposure, causes frostbite.
To be used
Finding the cold wind and time to freeze:
Cross or intersect the top horizontal line (air temperature) with the wind speed along the left lateral vertical axis.
To determine the time of freezing, compare the wind chill temperature with the shade color. The shaded colors indicate the time that elapses before freezing occurs:
0 – 5 minutes (GOAL)
5 – 10 minutes (dark blue)
10 – 30 minutes (blue)
air temperature of 0°F and a wind speed of 15 mph would result in a wind chill of -19°F. Under these conditions, exposed skin will
freeze solid (frostbite) in about 30 minutes!
Let’s say you are snowmobiling (skiing?) at 0°F (not very comfortable!) and you are driving at 30 mph. All exposed skin will freeze in about 15 minutes.
You are a “frozen” ice fisherman and you are on a frozen lake with a temperature between 5°F and 0°F. The wind is not very strong, but it is blowing flat on the lake at about 10-15 mph. Guess what? Your skin can freeze from frostbite in 30 minutes. ….
Download and print your own full-size windchill map:
>> Wind chill graph.
>> Hot Hands Warmer (view amzn)
What is the temperature of the wind?
It is the “felt” temperature. It is based on the rate of heat loss through wind and cold on exposed skin. As the wind increases, the body cools faster, causing the skin temperature to drop.
Wind cooling does not affect “non-living” objects such as car radiators and exposed water pipes, as these objects cannot be cooled below the actual air temperature.
What is freezing?
Frostbite is physical injury caused by freezing of body tissue. The most sensitive parts of the body are the extremities, such as the toes, toes, earlobes, or tip of the nose.
Symptoms include loss of sensation in the extremities and a white or pale appearance. Frostbite requires immediate medical attention. The area should be warmed SLOWLY.
Tips for cold weather
Hand and foot warmers
I can tell you from experience that these hand and foot warmers work very well! I still have a box of each. They stay warm for about 6 to 8 hours when activated!
Best seller of hand warmersLes chauffe-mains
As the saying goes, “cotton kills.” Just as a cotton towel absorbs water, cotton clothing can withstand water for a long time. When they get wet, they stay wet. Nylon, synthetics, silk and wool are the best choices.
Wear several layers of loose, warm clothing. The air gap between the layers provides insulation.
Outerwear should be tightly woven, waterproof and hooded.
The face, the eyes, the head.
Safety glasses to protect your eyes and part of your face. Put on a hat! Apparently 40% of body heat can be lost through the head. Wear a face mask to cover your mouth and nose and protect your lungs.
Read: The best thin insulated gloves
Keep your clothes clean. Dirty clothes contaminate insulating properties.
Prevent overheating. When you sweat, you lose heat faster.
Generate body heat without overheating (sweating).
Store in a dry place
Water, sweat and moisture carry heat away from the body.[Read: The warmest survival blanket – wool or fleece?]
What is hypothermia?
Hypothermia – abnormally low body temperature (lower than 95 degrees Fahrenheit). Warning signs include: uncontrollable shaking, memory loss, disorientation, in coordination, slurred speech, drowsiness and obvious exhaustion. Medical attention is needed immediately. If medical attention is not available, begin by slowly warming the body.
Read: How to prevent frostbite and hypothermia.
Frequently asked questions
At what temperature is there a risk of freezing?
Frostbite is skin and tissue damage from exposure to temperatures below freezing – generally any temperature below -0.55°C. Frostbite can affect any part of the body, but extremities such as hands, feet, ears, nose and lips are most likely to be affected.
At what temperature is the wind dangerous?
Wind chill around minus 25 degrees means freezing is possible within 15 minutes. Frostbite is the freezing of the skin and underlying body tissues. It first affects exposed body tissues where blood flow may be limited, such as fingers, toes, nose and ears.
How fast does the wind cool down?
Each shaded area indicates how long (30, 10, and 5 minutes) a person may be exposed to frostbite. For example, at 0°F and a wind speed of 15 mph, the wind temperature would be -19°F. Under these conditions, exposed skin could freeze within 30 minutes.
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