Finger Cooling During Cold Air Exposure

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This paper presents a method for predicting the onset of finger freezing. It is an extension of a tissue-cooling model originally developed to predict the onset of cheek freezing. The extension to the finger is presented as a more conservative warning of wind chill. Indeed, guidance on the risk of finger freezing is important not only to safeguard the finger, but also because it pertains more closely to susceptible facial features, such as the nose, than if only the risk of cheek freezing was provided. The importance of blood flow to the finger and the modeling of vasoconstriction are demonstrated through cooling predictions that agree reasonably well with several reported observations. Differences in the prediction between the present physiologic-based model and the engineering model used to develop the wind chill index are also discussed. New wind chill charts are presented that tabulate the mean cooling rates and corresponding onset times to freezing of the finger for various combinations of air temperature and wind speed. Results indicate that the surface of the finger cools to its freezing point in approximately one-eighth of the time predicted for the cheek. For combinations that result in the same wind chill temperature (WCT), the rate of finger cooling is faster at the higher wind speed. This asymmetry was previously disclosed through the application of the model to cheek cooling, and it reiterates the ambiguity associated with the reporting of WCT. It is further emphasized that the reporting of onset times to freezing, or safe exposure limits, is a more logical and meaningful alternative to the WCT.

Human Protection and Performance, Defence Research and Development Canada—Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Dr. Peter Tikuisis, Defence Research and Development Canada—Toronto, 1133 Sheppard Avenue West, P.O. Box 2000, Toronto ON M3M 3B9, Canada, E-mail: Peter.Tikuisis@drdc-rddc.gc.ca

This paper presents a method for predicting the onset of finger freezing. It is an extension of a tissue-cooling model originally developed to predict the onset of cheek freezing. The extension to the finger is presented as a more conservative warning of wind chill. Indeed, guidance on the risk of finger freezing is important not only to safeguard the finger, but also because it pertains more closely to susceptible facial features, such as the nose, than if only the risk of cheek freezing was provided. The importance of blood flow to the finger and the modeling of vasoconstriction are demonstrated through cooling predictions that agree reasonably well with several reported observations. Differences in the prediction between the present physiologic-based model and the engineering model used to develop the wind chill index are also discussed. New wind chill charts are presented that tabulate the mean cooling rates and corresponding onset times to freezing of the finger for various combinations of air temperature and wind speed. Results indicate that the surface of the finger cools to its freezing point in approximately one-eighth of the time predicted for the cheek. For combinations that result in the same wind chill temperature (WCT), the rate of finger cooling is faster at the higher wind speed. This asymmetry was previously disclosed through the application of the model to cheek cooling, and it reiterates the ambiguity associated with the reporting of WCT. It is further emphasized that the reporting of onset times to freezing, or safe exposure limits, is a more logical and meaningful alternative to the WCT.

Human Protection and Performance, Defence Research and Development Canada—Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Dr. Peter Tikuisis, Defence Research and Development Canada—Toronto, 1133 Sheppard Avenue West, P.O. Box 2000, Toronto ON M3M 3B9, Canada, E-mail: Peter.Tikuisis@drdc-rddc.gc.ca
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