Wind chill safety: What you need to know this winter

Northerners aren't the only Americans exposed to bone-chilling weather these days. From Kansas to Arizona, record-breaking low temperatures are making the history books.

It was so cold in Fort Valley, Ariz., last week that it broke a 99-year record by 9 degrees. And in Flagstaff last month temps plunged to -30 Fahrenheit!

Subzero temperatures are dangerous, but add some wind and human tissue can freeze quickly. A wind chill of -20 degrees Fahrenheit will cause frostbite in just 20 minutes.

How cold is too cold to risk going outside? Experts say you need to take extra precautions anytime the wind chill dips below zero. To determine the wind chill in your area, check out this wind chill calculator from the National Weather Service.

If you do need to be outdoors in sub-zero temps, follow these wind chill safety tips:

• Keep all skin from exposure to the wind, including frostbite-prone areas like fingers, toes, ears, and nose.

• If you experience any numbness, get medical help immediately.

• If you must wait for help, slowly re-warm the affected areas.

• If you suspect hypothermia (a drop in body temperature below 95 degrees F), warm the body core before you warm the extremities.

• Warning signs of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. Seek medical care immediately!