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Avoiding Hypothermia in the Wilderness

The cold of the winter season is not enough to keep outdoorsmen inside the safety of their homes, but it should give reason to further prepare in all areas.  One of the most important preparations that wintertime outdoor adventurers should make is the provision against incurring hypothermia.

Hypothermia is one of the main dangers facing outdoor work and recreation during the winter and is the cause of multiple injuries and even deaths each year in the United States.  But hypothermia can be easily avoided if a person will take the steps necessary to prepare against it.

In order to fully prepare against the winter’s cold and in order to avoid incurring hypothermia, one first needs to understand what causes hypothermia.  Hypothermia is more than simply getting cold, it is an extremely dangerous and delirium inducing condition that is brought on by:

  • Insufficient protection from exposure to wet and cold
  • Dehydration
  • Inadequate nutrition or lack of fuel for the body

The first step in avoiding hypothermia is to keep your body well-hydrated and well-fed while adventuring in the cold.  As the body gets cold, it burns more fuel to keep warm.  This fuel comes in the form of water and food, and without sufficient hydration and nutrition the body cannot keep its temperature at healthy levels.

The second way to avoid hypothermia is to keep yourself secured from exposure to the cold.  This means keeping warm and dry while venturing outdoors in the winter.

It is important to keep warm in the winter by wearing sufficient clothing for the activity at hand as well as for the temperature forecast.  But it is similarly important to keep dry at all times during the winter cold as getting wet can bring on hypothermia faster.

To avoid hypothermia this winter season, remember to keep every part of your body covered, stay dry at all times, and keep your energy and hydration up with plenty of food and water. 

photo credit: Rob Murota via photopin cc