Keeping Warm, Record Lows, and Other Winter Season Highlights

This installment of an ongoing feature looks at the necessity of keeping warm in winter, record low temperatures, and the sights sky watchers can expect to see in December 1994 and throughout 1995.


| December/January 1994


I believe my first article for MOTHER EARTH NEWS was in 1982. Through the early 80s I contributed a major section on astronomy for the magazine's almanacs of that period. And during the entire decade I was writing one or two articles on sky sights and phenomena every year.

I've always enjoyed the magazine, and its people — I remember with great fondness the many talented and friendly staff members I've worked with here over the years. No other magazine does what MOTHER EARTH NEWS does so well. Here's to another 25 down-to-earth, straight-from-the-heartland years for this magazine, more indispensable than ever!

Keeping Warm in Winter's Dangerous Chill

With the winter season upon us, keeping warm becomes an imperative. Cold weather in most parts of the United States has the potential to be more than uncomfortable — it can kill and maim. The body attempts to conserve heat by constricting blood vessels near the skin and by shivering. When these mechanisms are insufficient, frostbite and hypothermia can be the result.

Frostbite is an actual freezing of the skin, a formation of ice crystals that can damage living tissue. People usually recover completely from the milder cases, but severe frostbite can lead to permanent and painful sensitivity to cold or even to death of tissue requiring amputation of the affected extremities.

Hypothermia can be even worse. It is the state the human body enters when its core temperature drops below about 95°F. A person becomes disoriented, at first shivering violently but then less. The next stages can be unconsciousness and death.

Most people know that a large fraction of the body's heat escapes from the head and neck, so it is crucial to keep these covered. This is particularly true when the windchill reading is low (the wind carries away your escaping body heat much more rapidly), so be sure to consult your TV or radio weather forecast for this figure. Also consider how active you will be outside. Fatigue makes the body more susceptible to the cold, but moderate exercise can keep you warmer — a Canadian study shows that a person who will be standing still outside should dress for temperatures 20 to 30 degrees colder than someone who is taking a brisk walk.





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