Hypothermia is a chief concern in cold weather. Most people assume that it’s only an outdoor problem, however Tim says hypothermia can also occur indoors. Whether you’re in the wilderness braving the cold or stuck in your home during a power outage, exposure to the cold is serious. Layering your clothing and taking every measure possible to stay warm should be a priority. However, should you or someone around you begin to experience hypothermia you need to know how to reverse it. Tim says that it’s all about slow, gentle rewarming. Begin with a hot drink, calorie rich food and wrapping up in extra layers. Warm water bottles placed under the armpits can help to naturally raise the body temperature. While the knee jerk reaction may be to warm someone as quickly as possible, Tim advises against it. Rewarming too quickly can trigger dangerous side effects. A hot shower, a dip in a hot tub, sitting in a sauna – all of those solutions are risky and could spur a heart attack. If a victim is immobile and you have to transport them precautions have to be taken. Tim warns that dropping a hypothermia victim can also cause a heart attack. Furthermore, if a hypothermia victim has a low body temperature and you cannot find a pulse, they aren’t necessarily dead. Tim says that the body can go into shutdown and essentially hibernate, so you should never count a person out if they don’t have a pulse. The only way to know for sure is to rewarm them and at that point if they have no pulse or respiration, only then can you determine if the hypothermia was fatal.
Exposure not only puts you at risk of hypothermia, but also frostbite. Tim says that frostbite tends to occur most frequently on the fingers, toes, ears and nose so you need to check these parts often when you’re out in sub-freezing weather. The cheeks are another place that often suffer from frostbite, but any exposed skin is at risk. Frostbite can be very sneaky, Tim says. The skin goes numb but it can be hard to tell when the damage starts to occur. If you see a change in color or texture of the skin, you can assume that ice crystals are forming and causing damage. However, before you quickly thaw out the frostbit area stop to consider whether or not there is a possibility that those tissues may refreeze. If you are in a situation where you are stuck in the woods with frost bite Tim says don’t be too quick to rewarm those areas. If you thaw the frostbit area out and it then refreezes again later, it will cause double the tissue damage. We’ve all seen the horrific photos of black, dead skin and tissue as a result of frostbite. If you are in a situation where you are cold and exposed and can’t get to a place immediately for medical attention it’s often best to leave the frostbite as is, don’t thaw it out, just make sure it doesn’t spread. Mild frostbite or “frost nip” can happen as well. This is a very shallow freezing damage to the skin. Tim says that this can heal and is much like a burn in terms of damage. Keeping your skin covered and staying alert, both are crucial to avoiding frostbite.
Be sure to check out the wealth of knowledge packed into Tim’s survival books - "Ultimate Survival Hacks", “Prepare For Anything”, “Hunting and Gathering Survival Manual”, “How To Survive Anything”, “How To Survive Off the Grid”, “Ultimate Bushcraft Survival Manual” and “Ultimate Winter Survival Handbook”.
You can also get training in all things survival from the guru himself. Go to www.AdvancedSurvivalTraining.com where you can sign up for his primitive living and survival classes and get hands on experience. You can also connect with him on Twitter @TimMacWelch.
Fingers, toes, ears and nose, keep ‘em!