Seven Weird Things Your Body Does in Freezing Cold Weather
Most of the country is an ice box right now because of the polar vortex. Here are seven weird things your body does in freezing cold weather:
- It immediately redirects blood away from your extremities, and toward your vital organs. As soon as the cold air hits you, your blood vessels contract. That's why your hands and feet tend to feel cold first. It's your body's way of keeping your core temperature up.
- You get goosebumps. All mammals fluff up their body hair when they're cold, including us. But since we've evolved and don't have much body hair, you just see the tiny muscles around your follicles contracting. That's what goosebumps are.
- You start to shiver, which actually warms you up a little bit. It's like a self-defense mechanism for your body. When your muscles shake, they generate heat. And that keeps your core temperature from falling too fast.
- You start feeling confused. It's a sign of hypothermia, and it starts happening when your body temperature gets down to about 95 degrees. A lot of people have trouble focusing and start slurring their words at that point.
- You eventually stop shivering, and that's when you know you have severe hypothermia. It's also when people feel the need to lie down, which is dangerous. Right around then, some people also get so confused and out of it, they feel the urge to take their clothes off for some reason. Which obviously isn't a good idea.
- Your skin and the tissue under it literally start to freeze. That's what frostbite is. And it can happen in as little as five minutes in sub-zero temperatures. If you're not wearing a hat, your ears are one of the first things to go.
- You can temporarily go blind. When your body temperature falls far enough, the blood vessels in your eyes start to contract. Which can make you go blind, but usually just temporarily.