Hypothermia Prevention: What is Hypothermia and how can I Prevent it?
Hypothermia prevention is mandatory if you are lost or in a survival situation. Even in warmer climates you can be subjected to hypothermia. Hypothermia happens when your bodies core temperature falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. As most people know the optimal body temperature is 98.6 degrees but can fluctuate a degree either way. Hypothermia can happen quite quickly in certain circumstances.
In the simplest sense if you are cold for extended periods of time you will get hypothermia. Some other circumstances that will make you colder faster are alcohol and water. If you are to drink alcohol you will actually feel warmer, but you will lose heat more quickly. By drinking alcohol your lack of judgment may also make you do something stupid like shedding layers because you feel warm, when you should actually be trying to get warm. Being wet can increase the time to get hypothermia. Heat is lost much more quickly when wet or submersed in water. Something that is interesting to note is that water temperatures will result in hypothermia much quicker than the same outdoor air temperature. Even a water temperature of 79 degrees Fahrenheit can lead to hypothermia if you are exposed long term. Hypothermia prevention is very important.
The symptoms of hypothermia can be very devastating and are listed below from minor to serious:
- Lack of Energy
- Slow Breathing
- Slower than Normal Pulse
- Cold Skin
- Bad judgment
- Lack of Concern for well being
- Low Coordination
- Slow or Slurred Speech
- Lack of Shivering(When your body is extremely cold you will actually stop shivering)
- Blue Skin
- Total Lack of Control
- Amnesia and Forgetfulness
- Ultimately Death (if exposed for extended periods)
The best method of hypothermia prevention is to be prepared. You should always have the proper clothing, hats, footwear, and gloves if necessary. If you will be taking your vehicle to a remote location you should have cold weather gear in your vehicle. If there is snow on the ground, getting stuck on a dirt road is very possible. Make sure you have boots, gloves jackets, snow pants and low degree sleeping bags in your vehicle. It is always good to have some device for warmth. Some good items to have are water proof matches, hand warmers, candles and some other type of fuel to burn. If you are actually in a situation where you must leave your vehicle try to stay dry. You will be able to move much quicker and delay hypothermia if you are dry. If it does rain try to find good cover. Good cover may come from a tree, bush, overhang or even a cave. If you are sweating you will want to shed a layer. Sweating can make you wet and when it does start to cool down you will get cold very quickly. Having clothing that dries quickly or stops sweat and keep you dry is very important. Under Armor makes some great materials that will help you stay dry and warm. Make it a priority to make a fire if you must stop. If possible keep moving, but remember you will want to eat so you don’t get over exhausted.
If you didn’t follow the steps to hypothermia prevention or if an unforeseen situation happened and you now have hypothermia try to stay awake. You will want to get to the warmest location you can as fast as possible. If you can tunnel into the snow or underground you may be able to get warm enough to start fighting hypothermia. If you do get to a warm location, do not try to warm up quickly. You should gradually warm yourself.
If you follow these steps to hypothermia prevention you will have a much better chance of surviving a disastrous situation.