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Thermal imaging shows how much heat your body loses in cold temperatures

Thermal imager device can test which area have the most heat escaping
Wausau Fire Department's thermal imager can measure the amount of heat escaping the body
Wausau Fire Department's thermal imager can measure the amount of heat escaping the body(WSAW)
Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 6:49 PM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Temperatures around zero degrees and dangerous wind chills mean it’s even more important to bundle up if you’re going outside.

The Wausau Fire Department’s thermal imager device can measure how much heat our bodies lose in cold temperatures. The thermal imager is used to translate heat into visible light. The device is used by frequently used by firefighters to find a heat source.

“What it does is it senses radiant heat, either from the body or any type of heat source,” said Derek Pionke, engineer for the Wausau Fire Department.

During an experiment, Pionkee stood outside in -2 degree weather to test the thermal imager. He started off layered up and the thermal imager showed heat leaving mostly from his head and hands.

Once he started to take more layers of clothing off, such as his hat and sweatshirt, the thermal imager showed more heat escaping from his body.

“Most of the time it is going to be the highly vascular areas like your head. It’s going to be probably your number one source. Then through your armpits and the back of your knees,” said Pionke.

The less clothing, the more heat that was lost.

”Any exposed skin is basically going to lose a lot of heat however, the thinner skin around the head with more of the veins and arteries going through there are going to have a lot more heat,” said Pionke.

He said it doesn’t take long to get frostbite in these cold temperatures and low wind chills. He said sometimes it can take only 10 to 15 minutes in very cold weather.

Pionke said you can tell when the frostbite is getting really bad because the tingling or painful feeling starts to go away.

“Once that pain is going away, what that means is that the nerve endings are not working anymore, so you have skin damage and not allowing those nerves to work so you won’t be feeling the pain,” said Pionke.

It is important to have all of your skin covered to prevent the loss of heat.

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