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senka
07-03-2011, 01:27 PM
I can't believe no one ever asked for that, but I couldn't find anything.

If you have a person of average weight inside a prison cell, enough food and water provided, but no clothes (yes, I mean completely naked!) and no furniture, nothing to blanket oneself, how cold could it be so the person will feel uncomfortably cold but not freeze to death?
It should work over a longer period of time, of course, as the person is a prisoner, so I'm thinking about weeks/months.

And from what temperature on there would be at least a risk to die from cold?
And last but not least, does it make a significant difference if the person is male or female (the type of jail I have in mind would most likely have male as well as female prisoners).

I can't give you an exact description of a single person because, as I said, I'm thinking about a jail with many prisoners inside so it would be many different persons... just think about the "average male/female".

Guardian
07-03-2011, 02:04 PM
60 degrees F or less will create hypothermia after a period of time. Not sure how long, but that depends on the person's physical stats, like body fat, and how much they get to eat. If the prisoner gets wet, that will trigger hypothermia even faster, as in less than a couple days.

Buffysquirrel
07-03-2011, 05:32 PM
Basically, 'it depends'. Various factors include wind chill, which has the effect of making it colder than air temperature would suggest, whether you're wet, as Guardian says, how well-clothed you are, and whether you're getting enough to eat--and, of course, for how long you're exposed to the low temperatures. Polar explorers lose weight on their expeditions because they're not eating enough calories to compensate for those used in keeping their bodies warm.

Let me get me book.

It's Life at the Extremes by Frances Ashcroft, and I bought it exactly for this kind of question. It has lots of details about hypothermia--worth getting it from the library.

Hypothermia clinically occurs when your core body temperature drops below 35 deg C.

"...physiological responses [eg shivering]....enable well-fed adults to maintain their core temperature in still air of between zero and +5 deg C wearing only light clothing."

"In still air of -29 deg C there is little danger for a properly clothed person." Even if your people are naked, if the food supply is sufficient--and it needs to be more than would be provided 'normally'--they could be ok. Below that, I'm thinking they're going to suffer.

But again, it's necessary to take the complicating factors into account. What kind of floor are they lying on? Concrete floors are evil for conducting away heat. They're always cold. A wooden floor would retain heat.

senka
07-03-2011, 08:15 PM
Basically, 'it depends'. Various factors include wind chill, which has the effect of making it colder than air temperature would suggest, whether you're wet, as Guardian says, how well-clothed you are, and whether you're getting enough to eat--and, of course, for how long you're exposed to the low temperatures. Polar explorers lose weight on their expeditions because they're not eating enough calories to compensate for those used in keeping their bodies warm.
As I said, they're naked and they are going to be there for weeks/months, some even years... they way it happens to people who are sent to jail.
For the rest: There is no wind and it is dry inside.
They do get enough to eat not to loose much weight and thus not to starve and not to get ill and the prison guards don't want them to be in danger of serious physical harm, they just want them to feel uncomfortably cold. The prisoners are supposed to feel miserable so the guards won't have the rooms properly heated, but no more.



(...) "In still air of -29 deg C there is little danger for a properly clothed person."
I guess you are referring to someone who got like... a down jacket and everything?


But again, it's necessary to take the complicating factors into account. What kind of floor are they lying on? Concrete floors are evil for conducting away heat. They're always cold. A wooden floor would retain heat.The floor is tiled, similar to a public bathroom (I know that sounds unusual but there is a reason in the story why it is that way).



Thanks everyone so far. From what I read so far I think the temperature should not be below 60 F? Do you think 65 F will be enough to constantly feel uncomfortably cold but not be seriously harmed and not getting used to it after some time?

Buffysquirrel
07-03-2011, 09:22 PM
I guess you are referring to someone who got like... a down jacket and everything?

That may be to whom the author was referring. She doesn't specify :). Maybe with some furs and a large warm hat?

A tiled floor will probably conduct heat away from their bodies while they're sitting or lying down. It'll also be uncomfortable without clothing or blankets. At 60 deg F I think they'd be very unhappy naked. There is always going to be a risk of someone dying at that temperature, especially if they get sick from other causes.

Guardian
07-03-2011, 10:29 PM
The source I found said that a temperature of about 60F in a home leads to hypothermia and other illnesses like that. They said that 68F or higher is good, however. So something in that range, and over time I think there could be issues, especially since they are naked.

Buffysquirrel
07-03-2011, 10:34 PM
I started wondering while cooking if they have any opportunities for exercise. That's a good way of getting and keeping warm. So if their cells are too small to move around much, and/or they don't get to go out and move around, whether working or playing games, that will also contribute to the risk of hypothermia.

jclarkdawe
07-04-2011, 12:52 AM
For your population, you have to think what population mimics the conditions closest to yours. I think you can ignore survival information entirely, because that population doesn't mimic your population at all.

I think you want to look at two groups, the elderly and the poor. The poor because they frequently don't have enough money to adequately heat a house. But the elderly is even more indicative. Base line for the elderly is a harder time of monitoring temperature and the need of a higher temperature to be comfortable. Then you factor in poor health (which your inmates would have) and dietary deficits (again, your inmates would have) and you see the development of chronic hypothermia cases (survival issues and the most common scenario is acute hypothermia, meaning sudden onset).

At an internal temperature of 95 - 97 F, you start seeing brain fog and a decline in coordination. At an internal temperature of 93 - 95 F, you start seeing stumbles and mumbles, and may begin seeing some cardiac issues. Below 93 F, you hit a medical emergency.

Notice that as little as a two degree drop in internal temperature can lead to mental confusion. Problem with the elderly is there can be other causes of mental confusion. But with chronic hypothermia you start beginning to see a struggle of the body to maintain itself, leading to circulatory problems, breathing problems, and becoming more likely to catch any little cold or other disease going around.

Bottom line is chronic hypothermia stresses the body. You're going to see a rise in all sorts of illnesses.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

kaitie
07-04-2011, 01:21 AM
For what it's worth, my school used to keep it 68 and said that it was to keep us alert. We were usually chilly and we had clothes on. I imagine even 68 naked would be pretty uncomfortable, for me anyway.

jaksen
07-04-2011, 02:08 AM
68, if you are forced to sit at a desk or table for most the day (students) can be excruciating. For teachers (good teachers who move around and don't just stand and lecture), it's the perfect temperature.

My students used to beg me to turn up the temperature to 70 or above, and when I could get into the thermostat (often locked), I would push it up. Then pretend I didn't do anything when asked by administration. Then they'd knock it down; I'd push it up again.

Then we had a problem with the heat, and it was pushed down to the low 60's. I had to go home, it made me feel so ill. (And I was wearing a coat and gloves in the classroom.)

So it's all relative dependent on circumstances: environment, level of activity of the people, ages of the people, etc.

VTwriter
07-04-2011, 06:10 AM
During the winter, we keep our house at 62F. Then again, we're not sitting around naked. At least most of the time.

Orianna2000
07-04-2011, 11:06 AM
Is it vital that you actually specify the temperature? You could always just smudge it a bit. Personally, I'd rather read an interesting description than something that just gives the facts.

For instance: "They kept the cells at sixty-five degrees Fahrenheit."

Versus: "The cells were cold. Damn cold. Not low enough of a temperature to kill anyone. They didn't want us dead, just uncomfortable. So we shivered and jogged in place and did our best to stay warm, and all the while they patrolled in their long-sleeved uniforms and laughed at us."

senka
07-04-2011, 04:39 PM
@Orianna2000: I need the temperature because the information appears inside a log which the guards keep about that sort of things (have been ordered to monitor the prisoners behavior and reaction to certain things for scientific purpose). A character looking for lost relatives known to have been imprisoned there will find the log entries.

The cells are not big but large enough the inmates could do some exercises. I think that's what can be done to keep them warm.

For myself I can say that I'm very comfortable with 64 F while just sitting all day, but I'm usually not sitting at my computer naked... wearing warm leggings and a long-sleeve shirt which I guess makes some difference. And I am quite insensitive in case of cold temperatures, so I guess 64 F plus naked plus tiled floor should feel pretty uncomfortable on the other hand...

Kitti
07-04-2011, 06:21 PM
I would also think part of your answer would depend on what temperature they're used to from OUTSIDE the prison. E.g. when I work all day outside in the 100+ degree heat, I come back into the air conditioned (70ish) house and layer on sweatshirts and drink mucho hot tea because I'm so cold. So I would think that someone who's been raised for years/decades in a hotter environment would need it to be several degrees warmer inside (and vice versa).

Storyteller5
07-05-2011, 08:01 AM
I would also think part of your answer would depend on what temperature they're used to from OUTSIDE the prison. E.g. when I work all day outside in the 100+ degree heat, I come back into the air conditioned (70ish) house and layer on sweatshirts and drink mucho hot tea because I'm so cold. So I would think that someone who's been raised for years/decades in a hotter environment would need it to be several degrees warmer inside (and vice versa).

This is very true. Looking at the other side of Kitti's post, I live in a climate that routinely can be anywhere from -4*F to -40*F in the winter which means 32 can be a really comfortable temperature, even feel warm after being in colder ones. You do build up a tolerance to extreme temperatures.

Sarpedon
07-05-2011, 05:12 PM
Hmmm, I keep my house at 60 during the winter. In Minnesota 60 outside is T-shirt weather.

Snitchcat
07-13-2011, 02:56 PM
A comment about tiled floors: they are cold whatever the weather -- I have tiled floors and they are extremely uncomfortable to sit on, even with a cushion. In sweltering summer heat, however, they're wonderful at keeping you cool.

Tiles would have to sit in a hot sun for a few hours for you to even feel the difference in temperature. But, they absorb cold very quickly -- takes them about half an hour to an hour. If you're not wearing slippers with insulated / thick soles, the chill from them work their way through thick socks or thin soles in a few seconds.

Hope this helps. (^_^)

skylark
07-13-2011, 03:44 PM
Just answering a sub-question - on average, women are less likely to become hypothermic than men, but it depends on all sorts of other factors too (age, race, bodyweight...)

I also found this:


A naked person will start to feel cold if the surrounding temperature drops below around 25C (77F).

That's really quite warm.

Some interesting stuff here, though much of it's about very low temperatures.

http://www.coolantarctica.com/Antarctica%20fact%20file/science/cold_humans.htm

Snitchcat
07-14-2011, 12:17 AM
25C can be the ideal temperature depending on your environment. For me, that is the perfect temperature. Anything below is cold.

Hallen
07-14-2011, 12:50 AM
Yeah, no set temp is going to affect different people the same way. I've been sleeping outside on the ground with only a poncho in 45F weather with a sweatshirt on and other thick clothes, and damn near went into hypothermia.

Sleeping on that tile floor in anything less than about 85F temps is going to cause some level of major discomfort. Tile, dirt, etc, sucks heat out of your body in a hurry. Give your inmates a pallet to sleep on, something that provides some insulation from the floor, and you can drop the temp down to the mid to low 60's without causing harm to most people -- but it will be very uncomfortable. The more fat on the body, they better off you are. A thin person will suffer more than a fat one.
Once you get the involuntary shivers, with your teeth chattering, you aren't going to sleep much at all. It's hideously uncomfortable. Get up, do some exercises, get the blood flowing, stop the chatter, and then try to sleep for a while longer until the ground sucks the heat out and you wake up again.

not_HarryS
07-14-2011, 02:30 PM
I don't know if this is useful or not, but I thought it might be an interesting detail: If they're naked and kept in cold temperatures like that without furniture, they're going to get some seriously watery diarrhea. Especially if they're forced to sit on tiled floors, which are notorious for dispersing heat quickly. Having your rectum up against a cold tile floor for even an hour or so will really fuck with your digestive tract.

Yes, I'm speaking from experience >_<