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Frostbite and Hypotermia Be Prepare

With extreme winter weather chilling much of the country, take a few extra steps to avoid frostbite and hypothermia.  Whether participating in outdoor winter activities or traveling, it is important to be prepared and know what to do should something go wrong.
  “A little extra thought can make the difference between a safe, enjoyable experience or severe discomfort that may result in injury.”
frostbitehypothermia
Prevent frostbite and hypothermia
  • Wear a hat and clothing made of tightly woven fibers, such as wool, which trap warm air against your body. A few lighter layers protect better than one heavy garment.
  • Protect vulnerable areas such as fingers, toes, ears and nose.
  • Drink plenty of warm fluids to help the body maintain its temperature.
  • If hot drinks are not available, drink plenty of plain water. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which hinder the body´s heat-producing mechanisms and will actually cause the body´s core temperature to drop.
  • Take frequent breaks from the cold to let your body warm up.
Signs & symptoms of frostbite
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Pain and swelling

As the condition worsens…

  • Total loss of sensation
  • Pale waxy skin will become dark bluish
  • In severe cases, the skin will look burnt and charred.
Do you know what to do for frostbite?
  • Cover the affected area.
  • Never rub the skin as this may cause further damage.
  • Warm the area gently by immersing the affected part in water that is warm and comfortable to the touch.  Continue until affected area is warm and looks red.
  • Bandage the affected area with a dry sterile dressing.
  • Ensure that the affected part does not become frozen again.
  • Get the person to a doctor as soon as possible.
Signs & symptoms of hypothermia
  • Feeling cold
  • Shivering (which will stop as the condition worsens)
  • Slurred speech
  • Pale skin, bluish lips
  • Slow pulse
  • Lethargic
  • Mood swings
  • Unable to think clearly
  • Unconsciousness
What should you do for hypothermia?
  • Remove wet or cold clothing and replace with warm dry clothing.
  • Keep the person warm by wrapping him or her in blankets and moving them to a warm place.  Remember to be very gentle in handling the person.
  • Never rub the surface of the person´s body, this could cause further damage if they are also suffering from frostbite.
  • If the person is dry use hot water bottles or heating pads to warm them.  Make sure there is a blanket, clothing or towel between the heat source and the person´s skin.
  • If the person is awake, give warm liquids to drink. Avoid alcohol and caffeine as they can hinder the body´s heat-producing mechanisms.
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Cold Weather – Basic Survival Tips

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It is more difficult for you to satisfy your basic water, food, and shelter needs in a cold environment than in a warm environment. Even if you have the basic requirements, you must also have adequate protective clothing and the will to survive. The will to survive is as important as the basic needs. There have been incidents when trained and well-equipped individuals have not survived cold weather situations because they lacked the will to live. Conversely, this will has sustained individuals less well-trained and equipped.

There are many different items of cold weather equipment and clothing issued by the US Army today. Specialized units may have access to newer, lightweight gear such as polypropylene underwear, GORE-TEX outerwear and boots, and other special equipment. Remember, however, the older gear will keep you warm as long as you apply a few cold weather principles. If the newer types of clothing are available, use them. If not, then your clothing should be entirely wool, with the possible exception of a windbreaker. You must not only have enough clothing to protect you from the cold, you must also know how to maximize the warmth you get from it. For example, always keep your head covered. You can lose 40 to 45 percent of body heat from an unprotected head and even more from the unprotected neck, wrist, and ankles. These areas of the body are good radiators of heat and have very little insulating fat. The brain is very susceptible to cold and can stand the least amount of cooling. Because there is much blood circulation in the head, most of which is on the surface, you can lose heat quickly if you do not cover your head.

There are four basic principles to follow to keep warm. An easy way to remember these basic principles is to use the word COLD–

C – Keep clothing clean.
O – Avoid overheating.
L – Wear clothes loose and in layers.
D – Keep clothing dry.

C – Keep clothing clean. This principle is always important for sanitation and comfort. In winter, it is also important from the standpoint of warmth. Clothes matted with dirt and grease lose much of their insulation value. Heat can escape more easily from the body through the clothing’s crushed or filled up air pockets.

O – Avoid overheating. When you get too hot, you sweat and your clothing absorbs the moisture. This affects your warmth in two ways: dampness decreases the insulation quality of clothing, and as sweat evaporates, your body cools. Adjust your clothing so that you do not sweat. Do this by partially opening your parka or jacket, by removing an inner layer of clothing, by removing heavy outer mittens, or by throwing back your parka hood or changing to lighter headgear. The head and hands act as efficient heat dissipates when overheated.

L – Wear your clothing loose and in layers. Wearing tight clothing and footgear restricts blood circulation and invites cold injury. It also decreases the volume of air trapped between the layers, reducing its insulating value. Several layers of lightweight clothing are better than one equally thick layer of clothing, because the layers have dead-air space between them. The dead-air space provides extra insulation. Also, layers of clothing allow you to take off or add clothing layers to prevent excessive sweating or to increase warmth.

D – Keep clothing dry. In cold temperatures, your inner layers of clothing can become wet from sweat and your outer layer, if not water repellent, can become wet from snow and frost melted by body heat. Wear water repellent outer clothing, if available. It will shed most of the water collected from melting snow and frost. Before entering a heated shelter, brush off the snow and frost. Despite the precautions you take, there will be times when you cannot keep from getting wet. At such times, drying your clothing may become a major problem. On the march, hang your damp mittens and socks on your rucksack. Sometimes in freezing temperatures, the wind and sun will dry this clothing. You can also place damp socks or mittens, unfolded, near your body so that your body heat can dry them. In a campsite, hang damp clothing inside the shelter near the top, using drying lines or improvised racks. You may even be able to dry each item by holding it before an open fire. Dry leather items slowly. If no other means are available for drying your boots, put them between your sleeping bag shell and liner. Your body
heat will help to dry the leather.

A heavy, down-lined sleeping bag is a valuable piece of survival gear in cold weather. Ensure the down remains dry. If wet, it loses a lot of its insulation value. If you do not have a sleeping bag, you can make one out of parachute cloth or similar material and natural dry material, such as leaves, pine needles, or moss. Place the dry material between two layers of the material.

Other important survival items are a knife; waterproof matches in a waterproof container, preferably one with a flint attached; a durable compass; map; watch; waterproof ground cloth and cover; flashlight; binoculars; dark glasses; fatty emergency foods; food gathering gear; and signaling items.

Remember, a cold weather environment can be very harsh. Give a good deal of thought to selecting the right equipment for survival in the cold. If unsure of an item you have never used, test it in an “overnight backyard” environment before venturing further. Once you have selected items that are essential for your survival, do not lose them after you enter a cold weather environment.

Sourced from http://army.com