Tis The Season! Preparing For Cold Weather Emergencies!

I know many of us will be traveling for the Holidays and partaking in outdoor activities this winter, most in less than favorable weather. Here are some preparedness tips for the unexpected! If you have family traveling to your location this holiday season make sure to remind them to stock some basic supplies for the trip just in case, Most people can become a little too comfortable and confident that nothing will ever happen. Remember Murphys Law – “If anything can go wrong, it will”

Cold Weather Emergencies

Cold weather emergencies can present themselves quite rapidly and unexpectedly. Do you know what to do in a cold weather emergency? Such as becoming stranded from a accident, hunting or hiking trip or even a home based power outage from a snow or ice storm.

Hypothermia: Hypothermia can begin to set in at temperatures as low as 40 degrees outdoors especially if the weather is wet and windy. Hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, but it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water. The normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees. When your core body temperature begins to drop between 96 to 95 degrees you will begin to show signs and symptoms of Hypothermia.

Signs of Hypothermia:
1. Shivering
2. Decreased Awareness
3. Pale cool skin
4. Numbness (Stinging of extremities, ears, face)
5. Confusion
6. Loss of fine and complex motor skills
7. Unsteadiness, loss of balance, slurred speech.
8. Lack of interest (apathy)

Hypothermia is an emergency condition and can quickly lead to unconsciousness and death if heat loss continues. It is very important to know the symptoms of hypothermia and get treatment quickly. Often a hiker or skier’s body temperature will drop really low before others notice that something is wrong. If someone begins to shiver violently, stumble, or can’t respond to questions, it may be hypothermia and you need to warm him or her quickly. If any of the signs or symptoms above are noticed in yourself or another member of your party. Immediately seek shelter and attempt to warm yourself.

How to begin treating and rewarming. Remove any wet and cold clothing. If you have hand warmers place them in the armpits and groin areas near major arteries to help warm the blood. Place them inside a blanket completely covering their body except for their face. In an emergency a space blanket can be used to reflect 90% of their body heat back to their own body. If regular blankets are available by all means use them. If outdoors get them off the cold ground as their body will lose heat through conduction. Get a barrier of some kind between them, whether its pine boughs, leaves, blankets etc. Build a fire if possible. Heat and introduce warm liquids to help raise the internal core body temperature and warm yourself from the inside out.

Using Fire:
If you are prepared and have a fire starting method build a fire and use some type of reflector to bounce the heat back to your body. Use some sort of shelter to keep the wind off your back and reflect heat back towards you. It could be either a lean to shelter, space blanket, rock wall or side of a vehicle.

Preparedness in the outdoors:
Keep a lighter, ferro rod or magnesium bar on your person if hiking or hunting. If your in a vehicle keep one in the glove box or in a kit in your vehicle. Remember matches are not the ideal firestarter for damp or wet conditions and if they get wet they will be useless. The ferro Rod and Mag bar will work even while wet.

Preparedness at home:

Do you have alternative heat sources at home if you have a loss of power? Most homes use central or electric heat. If the power goes down do you have a way of heating your home such as a wood burning stove or propane, kerosene heaters, camp stoves, BBQ pits for cooking and heating food and water outdoors and plenty of back up fuel and lighting?

Preparedness for your vehicle:
Keep a small survival kit and necessary tools in your vehicle during winter months.

11 items to stock into your vehicle:
1. Blankets – Wool or Mylar space blankets
2. Food 72 hours worth for each individual ration appropriately.
3. Water and a way to purify or filter water
4. Fire method ferro rod, magnesium bar or lighter with a fire tinder.
5. Signal methods – Aerial or road flares, strobes, flashlight or chem-lights
6. Hand held or mobile transceiver with Sheriff or State comm (State Police) frequencies programed in. (Any Amateur HAM radio or GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) can be used without a license or call sign during a emergency)
7. Heat source – Candles, Propane heater with extra fuel or an alcohol stove. (Hand sanitizer and a cut in half aluminum soda or beer container can be used). Use caution in a vehicle or enclosed building and ventilate well. Carbon monoxide (Oxygen starved) and Carbon dioxide (Natural by product of human and animal respiration, fermentation, chemical reactions, and combustion fossil fuels/woods) from car exhaust entering the vehicle or burning fuels inside of an enclosed area can cause you to become unconscious and can be fatal.
8. Small shovel or E tool.
9. Cellphone and DC charger. (If you are in a area of service)
10. Tow rope or strap
11. Jumper cables

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