...the balls off a brass monkey

In case you haven't gone outside recently, it a little colder than normal for the south coast of BC.

In fact, it is cold enough for a little wind chill education courtesy or the Sport Information Resource Centre and Environment Canada;

What is Wind Chill?
Anyone who has ever waited at a bus stop or taken a walk on a blustery winter day knows that you feel colder when the wind blows. We call the cooling sensation caused by the combined effect of temperature and wind the wind chill.

On a calm day, our bodies insulate us somewhat from the outside temperature by warming up a thin layer of air close to our skin, known as the boundary layer. When the wind blows, it takes this protective layer away-exposing our skin to the outside air. It takes energy for our bodies to warm up a new layer, and if each one keeps getting blown away, our skin temperature will drop, and we will feel colder.

Wind also makes you feel colder by evaporating any moisture on your skin-a process that draws more heat away from your body. Studies show that when your skin is wet, it loses heat much faster than when it is dry.

How Wind Chill Affects You
Living in a cold country can be hazardous to your health. Each year, in Canada, more than 80 people die from over-exposure to the cold, and many more suffer injuries from hypothermia and frostbite. Wind chill can play a major role in such health hazards because it speeds up the rate at which your body loses heat.

How much heat you lose depends not only on the wind chill, but on other factors as well. Good quality clothing with high insulating properties traps air, creating a thicker boundary layer around the body which keeps in the heat. Wet clothing or footwear loses its insulated value, resulting in body-heat loss nearly equal to that of exposed skin. Your body type also determines how quickly you lose heat-- people with a tall slim build become cold much faster than those that are shorter and heavier.

In addition, we can also gain heat by increasing our metabolism or soaking up the sun. Physical activity, such as walking or skiing, increases our metabolism and generates more body heat. Age and physical condition also play a part: elderly people and children have less muscle mass, so they generate less body heat. Sunshine, even on a cold winter day, can also make a difference. Bright sunshine can make you feel as much as ten degrees warmer.

Over time, our bodies can also adapt to the cold. People who live in a cold climate are often able to withstand cold better than those from warmer climes.

Beating the Chill
The best way to avoid the hazards of wind chill is to check the weather forecast before going outside, and be prepared by dressing warmly. As a guideline, keep in mind that the average person's skin begins to freeze at a wind chill of -25, and freezes in minutes at -35.

A simple way to avoid wind chill is to get out of the wind. Environment Canada's wind chill forecasts are based on the wind you would experience on open ground. Taking shelter from the wind can reduce or even eliminate the wind chill factor. However, you would still feel cold from the outside temperature alone.

A recent survey indicated that 82 per cent of Canadians use wind chill information to decide how to dress before going outside in the winter. Many groups and organizations also use the system to regulate their outdoor activities. Schools use wind chill information to decide whether it is safe for children to go outdoors at recess. Hockey clubs cancel outdoor practices when the wind chill is too cold. People who work outside for a living, such as ski-lift operators, are required to take indoor breaks to warm up when the wind chill is very cold.

To read more, please visit SIRC’s online weather resources.

About MSC:
The Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC) is Canada's source for meteorological information. The Service monitors water quantities, provides information and conducts research on climate, atmospheric science, air quality, ice and other environmental issues, making it an important source of expertise in these areas. www.weatheroffice.gc.ca