Hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce it– this can happen in various conditions, not just when people are left out in the cold. If you spend a lot of time in the great outdoors, you need to be aware of this, no matter what time of the year it might be. First, you need to learn to recognize hypothermia signs to keep its effects from becoming life-threatening.
The Body’s Core Temperature
Symptoms of moderate hypothermia begin to surface when the body’s core temperature falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Inability to think clearly.
- Mumbling or slurred speech.
- A loss of bodily coordination.
- A weak pulse.
The best way to avoid hypothermia is to keep warm. Wearing layers of clothing while you are hiking or camping will do the trick. You can always remove a layer or two if you get too warm. If you have been sitting, standing, or lying still, get up and move around to raise your core temperature. You don’t want symptoms of hypothermia to worsen because the loss of consciousness is possible.
Eat plenty of food, preferably warm, and drink plenty of hot liquids to ward off low body temperatures when you’re out during the winter months. Consuming carbohydrates, even the refined kind, will give your body a quick boost of energy, which has a warming effect. Carbohydrates will also give you the power to stay moving and stay warm.
Finding warm shelter is the most critical first step to take. You must remove any wet clothing and put on fresh, dry clothing. If there is no shelter available, a sleeping bag will help reduce the rapid loss of body heat. In extreme cases, when a sleeping bag is not available, you can use plastic bags or tarp instead.
It might seem strange to hear that using a hot water bottle, battery-powered electric blanket, or similar warming methods are a bad idea. These can turn off the body’s natural shivering mechanism and make matters worse. Boiling a pot of water and inhaling the steam carefully and slowly is a better idea. Building a fire and relaxing next to it is even better.