(Jan. 6, 2014) – Baby it’s cold outside … indeed with talk of wind chills as low as minus-13 in the next 24 hours and the Loudoun County government is urging residents to take precautions against the extreme cold.
Weather forecasters have issued a wind chill warning for the region, which means that the forecasted wind chill temperatures as low as minus-13 have the potential to be life threatening. The wind chill is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin by combined effects of wind and cold. As the wind increases, heat is carried away from the body at an accelerated rate, driving down the body temperature.
Loudoun County officials remind everyone that people and animals are affected by wind chill. If you must be outside, here are some precautions to help keep you safe:
- Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing. Trapped air between the layers will insulate you. Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent, and hooded.
- Wear a hat because 40 percent of your body heat can be lost from your head. Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold.
- Stay dry – wet clothing chills the body rapidly. Excess perspiration will increase heat loss, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm.
- Do not ignore shivering. It’s an important first sign that the body is losing heat. Persistent shivering is a signal to return indoors.
Also, take extra care to provide for your pets and livestock:
- Pets should be brought inside or into protected covered areas, provided with plenty of bedding and food and drinking water.
- Livestock should be provided with wind-break and roof shelter, and monitored for signs of discomfort (extensive shivering, weakness, lethargy, etc.)
- Livestock should be provided with extra hay/forage/feed to maintain body heat.
- It is critical that animals have access to drinking water. Usual water sources may freeze solid in low temperatures and dehydration becomes a life-threatening factor.
More information on winter preparedness is online at www.loudoun.gov/winter.