Impacts of extreme dryness: more than you think

NOW: Impacts of extreme dryness: more than you think

The Polar Vortex invasion of 2019 has brought extreme, record-shattering cold to not only Michiana, but most of the Midwest and Great Lakes. South Bend recorded one of the coldest temperatures in its history by reaching -20° on two separate occasions. That is just two degrees shy of the all-time coldest temperature in city history. The coldest temperature that we could find was -23° in New Carlisle early Thursday morning. While everyone was caught up -- and rightfully so -- in the extreme cold, another important variable was overlooked. That would be the dew point temperature, which essentially gives us an idea of how humid the air is. 

The dew point in South Bend plummeted into unprecedented territory on Wednesday when it dropped to a staggering -29° (!!!). That would be classified as extremely, extremely dry. While the dew point hasn't been that low during the entirety of this arctic air invasion, it has been below zero since 8 a.m. Tuesday. And, stringing together multiple days in a row with subzero dew points can take a legitimate to even significant toll on you and your home. 

We all know dry air and breezy conditions can lead to chapped lips and dry skin. Did you know that when the air is dry enough, your likelihood of becoming sick increases noticeably? It's true. Breathing in extremely dry air dries out our sinuses. As a result, the mucus inside your body dries out and becomes less able to catch things that you breathe in, such as germs. Air like we've seen can also lead to cracked open skin that can be excruciatingly painful, bronchitis, worsened asthma, repetitive nosebleeds, and dehydration.

What you can do to combat the extremely dry air mass.
Extremely dry weather can also take a toll on your home. Static electricity constantly develops and moisture gets pulled from the structure of your home or business. As that happens, hardwood floors creak more often, walls and door jambs shift and gaps can form between your walls and ceilings. It's also possible that wooden furniture can bend or buckle. To combat all of the human and non-human issues that can arise in this kind of weather, there are some things you can do. And, fortunately, most of them are easy and inexpensive. You can place large bowls of water throughout your home to add moisture to the air. If you prefer a more effective solution, humidifiers are a great idea.

For your body, it's suggested that you apply oil-based moisturizers to your skin after showering. You can apply a lip balm or petroleum jelly for protection against chapped lips. For your nasal passages, you can again use petroleum jelly by placing a small amount in each nostril to keep them from drying out. Shorter showers and not-so-hot water can also go a long way in keeping moisture in your skin and body. One last combating measure you can take is adding omega-3 supplements and extra fluids to your daily intake. This will prevent you from becoming dehydrated. If you become overly dehydrated, other ailments can arise. 

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