Staying warm in winter weather

Stepha Poulin and Stepha Poulin

“The reason our hands and feet get cold in the winter is because our body prioritizes keeping our vital organs like our heart and lungs warm,” leading to a reduction of blood flow to the extremities, said Alyssa Tucci, a doctor at Compass Nutrition in New York City.

But when negative temperatures are brought into the equation, it can make warming up fingers and toes nearly futile; Bowling Green experienced record lows on Wednesday, a high of -6 degrees with a windchill temperature of -30 to -40 degrees. Under these conditions, frostbite can occur in 10 minutes, according to the National Weather Service.

So how should people even try to stay warm?

The key to staying warm is being warm before going outside. Before heading to class, eat a warm and substantial breakfast for energy to stay warm.

Loren Greenway, CEO of the Wilderness Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, says that staying hydrated also helps people dodge feeling cold. When the body is properly hydrated, it can tolerate cold temperatures better.

After drinking enough water, put on tons of layers. Any part of your body that is showing will get colder more quickly; in these temperatures, it’s hard to feel warm while hiking across campus.

Wearing multiple layers will trap the heat bodies naturally lose to the air.

“Your base layer — think long underwear and thick, wool socks — keeps you from losing heat through conduction. And wearing an external, wind- and water-proof but breathable layer will protect you from heat loss through convection,” according to Live Science.

And while the body can acclimate to cold weather, it’s not worth testing one’s survival skills in this weather. Greenway said, once someone starts shivering, they should take it as a sign that their body isn’t coping with the cold well and go back inside.

BGSU doesn’t cancel classes easily; according to its Emergency Cancellation and Delay Policy, the university usually won’t close for winter weather unless the Wood County sheriff declares a Level 3 Snow Emergency, but Wednesday was a rare exception.