The normal human body temperature is 37 degrees Celsius. If your body temperature drops just one or two degrees, you begin to suffer harmful effects. And, the cooling of your body is accelerated by windburn, which, according to Health Canada, becomes a real risk if the wind-chill value hits -27 Celsius or lower.
In 2002, when Edmonton hosted the Grey Cup, it didn’t dip below the freezing mark. But, a year later, Commonwealth Stadium hosted another marquee late-November event – the NHL’s Heritage Classic, an outdoor hockey game between the Oilers and the Montreal Canadiens. It was -19 C – before the windchill – at puck drop.
If you’re prepping for Grey Cup Sunday, and the forecast is for cold weather, take the coldest possible temperature in the forecast and treat it like your best-case scenario. And, remember that the prophets of doom over at The Farmers’ Almanac have predicted a long, “teeth-chattering” winter for the prairies.
“Of course, the big enemy is wind,” says Alex Campbell, a public education officer with Alberta Health Services. “It sucks the core heat from you.” Wear a tuque AND a hood over it to keep heat from escaping from your head. (No, Saskatchewan fans, no study has ever been done on if watermelons or Pil boxes keep your heads warm.) Dress in layers. Your top layer needs to be windproof. And, the layer closest to your skin should not be cotton, as it can get wet from your perspiration, and cotton doesn’t dry out that easily, whereas wool or synthetic material will wick away moisture.
Most of us will be smart. We’ll know how to dress, we’ll wear toques and hoods. But, did you think about your rear end?
Campbell says that the hard, plastic seats at Commonwealth Stadium are cold conductors. So, you should put a blanket or some reflective material between your keester and that seat. You can lose a lot of heat by sitting directly on the cold plastic.
Hot chocolate, tea and coffee will be on offer at the stadium. While we all know stadium coffee isn’t, well, the best, it’s important to keep ingesting warm drinks. And, you’re not going to like this, but Campbell suggests you refrain from alcohol if the temperature plummets. “The alcohol can mask your response to the cold,” he says.
When you shiver or your teeth chatter, these are signals from your body that you need to listen to. If alcohol inhibits your ability to feel cold, it doesn’t mean that you’re NOT cold.
St. John’s Ambulance has staff at field level at every game, along with EMS paramedics, but that’s to look after players who are injured on the field. First aid and medical staff will have warming areas for those who need first aid. They will be looking at the crowd for those showing signs of hypothermia. But, no one wants to go to the tent or, worse, be taken to hospital. So, stay warm. Walk the stairs at Commonwealth to keep the blood flowing. And enjoy the game. Unless you’re a Stamps fan. No, seriously, you can enjoy the game, too. Just not as much as anyone else.
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This article appears in the November 2018 issue of Avenue Edmonton.