Staying Warm

A huge storm moves into your area and suddenly you find yourself without electricity and heat! What do you do? You're not prepared for an emergency situation. You have some water and cans of food but the temperature is rapidly dropping. You could start a fire in the fireplace, but you don't have a fireplace. Now what?

Each year nearly 700 people in the United States die of hypothermia. Prolonged exposure to cold air or cold water temperatures are common causes. Hypothermia occurs when more heat escapes from your body than your body can produce. Severe hypothermia can lead to death. Some early symptoms include: Shivering, poor judgment, mild unsteadiness in balance or walking, slurred speech and difficulty performing tasks. Some late symptoms include: Muscles become stiff, slow pulse, breathing that is shallow and slower, weakness or sleepiness, and confusion.

Staying Warm

Be sure to wear thin layers of clothes rather than one thick layer. The best types of clothes are made with wool, cotton, or fleecy synthetic materials. One's body heat can be lost through the head. Though it is important to prevent general heat loss, the most important reason to keep a hat on (and your body temperature up) is that the brain requires the most blood, and needs that blood to be the right temperature. Your brain controls everything else in your body (your ability to think and act, as well as the ability for your body to maintain a particular temperature). So it is imperative to wear a hat! If you also have a scarf you can tie it over your head covering your ears then put the hat on. That way you protect your ears as well as having an extra layer on your head. Gloves and thermal socks are equally important. If you do not have the thermal type socks just double up with regular socks.

Stay indoors to avoid rain and wind. If you do go out and get your clothes wet remove them immediately and put dry clothes on. Stay active to keep blood flowing to all your muscles, however, don't over overexert yourself. Drink liquids such as warm broth or juices. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Alcohol may make your body feel warm inside, but it lowers your body's ability to retain heat. Alcohol slows circulation and can make you less aware of the effects of cold. Caffeine, a stimulant, accelerates the symptoms of hypothermia. Both caffeine and alcohol can cause dehydration.

Warming packets are a wonderful product to keep in your house and car. They are quite popular with truckers and skiers. They come in many sizes and can be put inside your shoes and gloves. They stay heated anywhere from 2 to about 20 hours depending on the brand and size. They are relatively inexpensive and can be found in most sporting goods stores and online. These are great to have for both survival needs as well as outdoor activities!

-Joanna Perry

 

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