A leisurely stroll along a frosty boardwalk turns into a sudden winter squall, whiteout conditions, you get lost and turned around. Emergencies happen quickly, and sudden intense cold is one of the worst.
What is it then?
Hypothermia is when the body cannot generate enough heat when exposed to frigid temperatures. Normally when the body is exposed to prolonged cold several things happen: you start shivering, your skin gets pale as blood is redirected elsewhere, and your extremities start cooling tremendously.
How bad is it?
Well, it’s definitely not good. Between 2003 and 2013 more than 13,000 people died from hypothermia so it can definitely happen. Typically, it is worse for the very young and the elderly and obviously it’s worse if the temperature is lower. Along with hypothermia is the chance of frostbite once the blood flow to extremities is diverted.
Can I prevent it?
Most of the time, yes. Dress warmly, don’t go for a leisurely stroll in a blizzard, and stay away from the ice planet Hoth. Honestly, in most normal situations, there are common sense methods of resisting hypothermia like dressing appropriately and staying alert.
The real problem comes in the out of the ordinary cases like being stuck in a car during a blizzard, falling through the ice while skating, getting lost during a winter walk. Being aware of weather and your surroundings is the best you can do in most cases.
What if it happens to me?
Get out of the cold. That’s number one. But if you can’t, look for shelter. Once out of the cold, try any number of these that are feasible:
Warm drinks (no caffeine or alcohol)
Wet clothes off, warm dry clothes/blankets on
Skin to skin heat transfer if that’s comfortable
If still outside, insulate the person from the ground with blankets
Light a fire (not too close), or any combo of the above
Avoid direct heat (water bottles, etc) and rubbing or massaging
Seek medical help!
Will I be okay?
You should be. But if you are concerned in any way that you may have hypothermia, a hospital visit is your best bet. Great prevention methods include first aid and survival training, so check them out.
Always better to get a professional opinion! Here's a link!