The truth about heat loss through an uncovered head is for an adult the amount of heat loss is approximately seven to ten percent versus the old adage that you lose 75 percent of your body heat through an uncovered head.
The old belief of the 75 percentage probably is based on a baby’s head, which is much greater in size and percentage than that of an adults. This belief was probably first started to ensure that people made sure that their infant’s head remained covered, especially in cold weather. I’m a nurse and its true that we cover newborns head to ensure that the baby’s body retains as much heat as possible.
Another good thing to keep in mind is that valuable body heat can escape from any exposed area, especially in cold weather. Exposed body areas can range from hands, arms, feet, head, etc. That is why no matter whether your a child or an adult, its always recommended that in any type of inclement weather such as the cold, that you maintain the proper clothing to protect your body’s temperature and to protect your skin from frostbite.
To put it simply the body loses its body heat through the skin, so any unprotected skin would mean you would find heat escaping through that avenue when being exposed to the cold. The head accounts for approximately seven percent of the total body skin area, so naturally if your head is uncovered that would be approximately seven percent of heat lost. However it stands to reason if its covered you will still lose a little because you would have some other unprotected skin areas. This adage holds truth for any part of the body though, that is why when its cold, people cover up versus braving the elements.
I have been a nurse for a long time and over the years many people have been brought into the emergency room after being exposed to frigged temperatures without proper apparel. If you are going to be out in inclement weather it is vitally important that you dress appropriately for the weather. For instance if your going to be out in cold rain, you should maintain layered clothing to keep the cold air out and yet provide your body plenty of air circulation. However if its indeed cold rain you should also prepare for the wet weather and wear coverings that will keep the water off your skin such as a rain slicker, rubber boots, etc.
By far the best way to make sure that you retain your body temperature would be to stay out of cold weather and other inclement weather conditions. But if you have to go out in the cold there are several things you can do to make sure that you don’t lose your body temperature through your head, or any other exposed skin area.
Dress as warmly as possible, warm clothing keeps warm air close to your body. Layering clothing is another good way to make sure your completely covered and it also allows you to remove clothing as needed if the body gets too warm or some of the clothing gets wet. One thing you don’t want is to be out in the cold and sweating.
Wear coverings on as many body parts as possible such as mittens or gloves on your hands and thick socks along with the appropriate weather foot gear. Remembering to keep your feet warm and dry is vital in cold weather temperatures.
Remember even if the outside temperatures don’t seem that cold there is a wind chill factor that plays a large part of the body’s exposure to the cold.
Another vital factor to remember is if you do start to get extremely cold, go indoors and get out of the inclement weather. If your out in a car make sure you take blankets with you just in case there is some kind of problem and you are stranded. Frostbite is a very serious medical condition and one that should not be taken lightly.
The main thing to remember is, “So what if this is a myth about body heat loss through an uncovered head, its one that for the most part you should adhere to as well as all the other parts of your body if your going to be out under cold weather conditions.” Myth or not, covering every part of your body and your child’s is vitally important if your going to be braving the elements.
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