In the last week or so, we have seen record low temperatures across most of America. I may be a week late, but I thought I would give a reminder about cold weather preparedness. Here in Minnesota temps are hovering around zero with wind chill around -20, but we’re used to it. I have seen reports of snow and ice in Texas and other southern states that might not get to 0, but that is still far colder than they are used to. Here are some things for you to keep in mind no matter where you live.
Hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can create it. Normal body temperature is 98.6 and hypothermia sets in when the body temperature drops below 95 degrees. It is most often caused by exposure to cold air, water or even cold wind. Many people have a misconception that it needs to be frigidly cold to get hypothermia, but it can happen from long exposure to temperatures of less than 50 degrees as well. The elderly and infirm are more susceptible to hypothermia indoors at cold temperatures than younger and healthier people.
Some of the symptoms of hypothermia are:
- Shivering ; constant shivering is a key sign of hypothermia
- Slurred speech
- Apathy; lack of concern for one’s condition
- Muscle stiffness
The treatment for hypothermia depends on the severity of it. For mild cases of hypothermia getting out of the cold environment and using blankets and heaters to raise the body’s temperature can be effective. Moderate to severe hypothermia is best treated in the hospital where special treatments can be used to warm the body’s core temperature.
Dress in Layers
The reason one dresses in layers when out in cold temperatures is to make sure you’re warm enough and to give you the option of removing layers if you begin to sweat. For example, here in Minnesota the temps can get to -20, not including wind-chill. If I have to go out to shovel, I’ll normally wear a white t-shirt, thin long sleeve shirt, a sweatshirt and my winter coat, along with long underwear and jeans, wool socks and good winter boots. I’ll also wear a hat, the hood of the coat and a scarf. Even though I’m not in a survival situation, shoveling Minnesota snow can be a workout. If I start to sweat, I’ll take off the sweat shirt and put the jacket back on and maybe lower the hood. I think you get the idea. If you are in a survival situation in cold weather and are sweating, you are in danger and are increasing the odds of hypothermia. Take off a layer or two and give yourself a rest.
This is often mentioned in forums. What it means is that cotton wicks your body’s heat away from you when it’s wet. Wool on the other hand will retain your body’s heat even while wet. If you live where it gets cold, having some good wool winter gear is a good idea. Since cotton wicks away your body’s heat, it may be preferable in hot climates.
Driving in Snow and Ice
Here in Minnesota, we can have snow 5+ months out of the year. People still forget how to drive in it, so I can imagine what it must be like in places where you don’t frequently get it. Here are just a few tips that may help keep you safe.
- Have a car kit. Follow the link to see what is in mine.
- Leave with plenty of time to get to your destinations. During a snow storm here, it can take 2-3 times longer to travel.
- Don’t make fast corrections. Don’t slam on the brakes, brake slowly. Before anti-lock brakes, we were taught to pump them. Don’t pump anti-lock brakes.
- Don’t make sudden turns.
- If you happen to get stuck, coarse kitty litter or sand can be poured under tires to give some traction.
- Have the number for a tow truck or AAA in your phone.
If you have any other tips, please add them to the comment section. Stay warm everyone!
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