Be aware of the wind chill factor this winter


TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – First snow and now bitter cold temps.

You don’t always need a storm to cause severe weather. Cold temperatures and a steady wind can be dangerous by themselves. They can make it feel much colder by creating a wind chill. This is the temperature if feels like based on the heat-loss from your skin – and that can lead to frostbite.

Dr Richard Reed( M.D.) of MedExpress not only knows about frostbite, he’s had it too. He says there’s at least one key symptom before major nerve and tissue damage develops.

“You can tell if you’ve got good sensation,” urged Reed. “If you start losing sensation, that’s a tip-off that something is going wrong. If you feel that your fingers are numb, that’s a sign that you need to get warmed up. If it’s your hands that are involved, put your hands in luke-warm water and slowly warm them up.”

Toes, fingers, ears, your nose,and cheeks are most prone to frostbite.

The worst cases can lead to amputation.

“Worse case, you see the skin turning black, and that leads to a risk,” said Reed. “I mean that’s necrotic tissue. that leads to the risk of amputation, debridement, or the cleaning out of that tissue.”

You’re probably wondering how long it will take you to get frostbite at a given temperature or wind speed.

For example:

Credit: National Weather Service
Credit: National Weather Service

At Fahrenheit with a wind speed of 15 mph, you can get frostbite in as little as 30 minutes. Knock that number down to -10°F with a wind speed of 25 mph and you’re talking about frostbite in as little as 10 minutes. At -20°F with a wind speed of 35 mph, frostbite can set in as little as 5 minutes.

Of course the temperatures and wind speeds vary causing the frostbite times to be different.

You can get more precise numbers from this Wind Chill Index on the right from the National Weather Service.