Being outside in the frigidly cold weather is almost never fun, especially now that the Polar Vortex has made a return visit. But because snow falls when it wants and doesn’t always differentiate between comfortably and uncomfortably cold weather, using your Toro or Ariens snow blower to clear off the drive may have potentially serious consequences.
Cold Weather Effects
Humans are not constitutionally composed for very cold weather, but we’ve managed to adapt. And while we may be aware of the effects that cold weather has on the human body are nothing new, ignoring them is never a good idea. Here’s what happens when the temperature drops, and how the body tries to defend itself:
Shivering: Remember how hot you get when you go for a hard run or bike ride? That’s because your muscles are using up more blood (a hot liquid) and bodily energy, with the latter being an exothermic reaction (gives off heat). To safeguard against overheating, the muscles in your body release this heat so it doesn’t stay trapped inside, and it’s the same sort of concept with cold weather. Your muscles are trying to generate heat, so they do that by creating movement and increasing blood flow—shivering.
Red Cheeks: The colder the weather gets, the more our bodies try and shunt blood away from the surface and to the core of the body so the most important organs are protected. But if vasoconstriction—the narrowing of blood vessels—means less blood at the surface, how do our cheeks get red? The answer lies in burst tiny blood vessels, which gives them—and our hands—that red look. If left unprotected, the lack of blood and oxygen at the surface can eventually cause tissue to die—frostbite.
Runny Nose: Our noses have thousands of tiny little hairs—cilia—lining the insides to act as miniature heaters and chimney sweeps. Every time we breathe in through our noses, the cold air brings with it tiny particles that are caught by the cilia. This, combined with cold air being so dry and simultaneously getting warmed, causes our noses to overreact in trying to moisturize the inside.
Fast Pulse: You may notice when it’s super cold out, your heart beats faster than usual. This goes hand-in-hand with vasoconstriction, with the heart now pumping the same volume of blood through less vessel space, as well as pumping harder to move the muscles to shiver. If it gets cold enough, your heart can beat fast enough to trigger ventricular fibrillation—a condition of extremely abnormal heart activity that inefficiently, or not at all, pumps blood.
Lung Spasms: Your lungs are also maladapted for cold weather, as they’re designed to operate within a certain temperature range. Spend enough time outside, and the air going in through your nose or mouth won’t have had a chance to warm up enough before it reaches your lungs, and can cause them to spasm. This leads to wheezing or shortness of breath, even after just one minute in very cold weather.
Brain Confusion: Lastly, cold weather also adversely affects the brain, which is a highly-tuned instrument in terms of weather and temperature. When it’s not in the right temperature range, it can cause you to have impaired judgment, slurred speech, and less cognitive awareness. These symptoms are also indicative of hypothermia.
Next time you take out your Toro or Ariens snow blower during really cold weather, evaluate how important it is to clear every inch of your driveway in terms of the potential impact it can have on your health and maybe choose to only clear the sidewalk until it warms up a bit. But when the mercury does finally rise, make sure you’ve got one of Snow Blower Source’s Toro or Ariens snow blowers, and enjoy free shipping to the lower 48 states.