Surviving Winter Outdoors – Hypothermia

January 5, 2013

No reason to die out on the Trails, even in the most bitter of Winter months. đŸ™‚ Like a good Boy Scout, being prepared is always the best tools.

WATER: This is just as important in the winter months as in the summer time. Our bodies need the fluids to pump that blood around the body and resupply the organs. Eating snow is not an option here. It will actually hurt you in a number of ways. Just don’t do it.

Hypothermia is one of the biggest killers in cold conditions. It can come on very quickly and once upon you, there is little time to deal with it before the consequences can be fatal.

  • If you notice slower movement in your fingers, hands and toes
  • Slight confusion, light-headedness and eventually the uncontrollable shivers
  • As it progresses, blue lips and pale face become apparent
  • Slow breathing and Heart rate
  • Severe shivers, mental disorder, clumsy behaviour, and total confusion

50% of all Hypothermia deaths are further exasperated by alcohol consumption. Alcohol does not warm the body under any condition and will only hasten the effects of Hypothermia and possible death.

Hypothermia does not have to take place under extreme cold conditions. The victim could very easily have not eaten before heading out onto the Trails. Did not have enough water for proper hydration or be dressed improperly. Or all of the above.

A thirty degree afternoon outdoors, dressed incorrectly in cotton cloths that attract moisture. Not hydrating before heading out on the Trails and then sweating from over exertion. This simple scenario can lead to Hypothermia. Without the knowledge that this can be so, one can be deep into a bad situation before ever realizing just what is happening.

Rewarming an individual in Hypothermia can be easy or very hard depending on how deeply they have gone into Hypothermia. Recognized early enough, water, a “Power-Bar”, a Fire and some Hugs from friends can solve the problem. But being further down the Hypothermia Pathway requires more extreme actions. Actions that if you where deep, enough into the forests, can be near impossible to obtain.

Wet clothing should be removed. Hot fluids should be injected intravenously. These things can be overlooked as ones senses become dulled with the onset of Hypothermia. Then a point of critical need is reached.

  • Older people are more susceptible to Hypothermia
  • Children too, can be more susceptible to Hypothermia and may not realize the need to tell adults what is happening to them for a quicker response
  • Alcohol increases the odds of Hypothermia tremendously
  • Improper clothing or lack of proper clothing can be the first step in Hypothermia. No HAT? Jeans as pants to just suck up that moisture? One pair of cotton socks in a non-waterproof boot?

Much of the possible causes of Hypothermia can be eliminated in advance with proper Winter Trails clothing and Boots. Water and Food play an important role both before and during a Winter outdoor adventure. And always remember that it does not have to be a blizzard outdoors, or even below freezing. Cold, damp conditions, with possible wind chills work just fine in taking anyone into Hypothermia.

Watch out for your fellow Hikers. No matter what you have headed out onto the Trails to do in the Winter months, look after one another. Check each other for coherency regularly. Do not be afraid to discuss how comfortable or uncomfortable you may feel while out on the Trails. Keep drinking that water. Before during and after your Hike.

NO FREEZING ALLOWED/ A few tips on staying dry and warm in Winter out on the Trails.



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