Succumbing to hypothermia….
With temperatures dropping and winter on its way, keeping warm is going to be high on the agenda for may people who find themselves in less than optimal circumstances.
In an outdoor or SHTF situation, you can rapidly succumb to the cold if you don’t find shelter – (Remember the rule of threes?).
So what can you do if you find yourself or your buddies in this life threatening situation?
Let’s look at What Hypothermia is and what we can do about it if we are faced with having to deal with it.
Hypothermia is when the body can no longer produce enough heat to function.
You don’t need to be living in the arctic to be at risk!
Hypothermia will happen when the bodies core temperature drops below 35 Deg C (95 Deg F) and this can happen as a result of a number of factors.
Wind chill factor, being cold and wet, as well as fatigue, anxiety, lack of food and warm drinks, can all contribute to an increased risk of hypothermia.
Prevention is going to be the best course of action as if you or one of your group get hit with this, you are going to have to break your journey, find shelter and get it sorted.
Signs that all is not well typically start with shivering, loss of dexterity in the hands and feet as blood is drawn into the bodies core as its own defence mechanisms, attempting to keep the important organs functioning.
You should be getting out of the weather now, adjusting clothing and getting a hot drink.
When shivering stops, the body is no longer able to generate its own heat to keep up with the heat loss and a rapid decline is imminent unless you stop it.
Irrational behaviour, stumbling, and confusion are late signs that should be alerting you now that something is seriously amiss and needs to be sorted urgently.
At this point, it is a serious medical emergency!
Seek shelter, quickly! Get out of the weather.
A tent, cave, rock overhang, whatever. Get out of the effects of the weather!
Remove any wet clothing – cotton especially acts like a wick when wet – and get the person into a sleeping bag. Get someone in there with them. Now is not the time to be bashful, someone could die here!
Hot sweet drinks given slowly will slowly help to raise the body temperature to normal.
In extreme situations heat packs (Or improvised equivalents) around the main arterial areas of the groin, neck and armpits will help.
Don’t get them running around doing jumping jacks – too late for that now. They’ll only lose more body heat!
Keep them quiet and rested and gradually warm them up.
Unfortunately, hypothermia doesn’t just happen in the wild or SHTF situations.
Many homes don’t have enough insulation or an adequate heat supply and many people, especially the old and infirm, die come wintertime for the sake of some warmth.
It’s not rocket science! Insulate against the effects of the weather.
Wear layers of clothing as they will provide better insulation. Try to stay dry, nothing wicks away heat faster than wet clothing and wind. Wear clothing that is fit for the purpose.
Don’t wear cotton as it loses all insulating properties when it gets wet. Denim jeans may be comfortable but will quickly become sodden and provide no protection against the elements.
Make sure you take in enough energy, food and warm drinks, to keep your body working properly. In cold conditions, you’ll burn more calories just keeping warm.
If you get wet, redistribute clothing and seek shelter before you are really up against it. According to the rule of threes – Shelter is THE top priority here.
When you take shelter, use whatever you can to provide extra insulation. Leaves, bracken and other plant materials.
Remember that you will lose a shit load of heat into the ground if you lie directly on it, so pile a good load of insulation to lie on.
Get a decent warming fire going if safe to do so.
Here’s a Video of Ex-SAS Trooper Chris Ryan getting it stuck to him in Siberia.
Doesn’t matter how tough you think you are!
Here’s a pretty good infographic from Eastern Mountain Sports, that summarises the key points
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