I live in New England.
That should tell you everything you need to know about why this subject is crucial to our preparedness mindset. Mainly because I am freezing my tail end off! I am not a fan of winter, never have been. Early in the season it begins with rain that freezes then thaws in the day and refreezes at night. This makes for a nasty scenario when you are like me and your nickname is “Auntie Boo Boo.”
Seriously, they call me Auntie Boo Boo, and for good reason.
I’m the person who falls UP the stairs, trips over imaginary things, or finds a single patch of ice in a sea of sand; and will then begin the dance of flailing arms and awkward stumbles to complete the spectacle in a spectacular move of uncoordination and desperation ending in an ungraceful faceplant.
Why you might ask do I mention this? Last season I was able to break and ankle without the slightest skip in my routine [of course the pain was somewhat uncomfortable in the following eight hour shift in a limo]. None the less I am so accustomed to wiping out and finding new ways to cover my body in bumps and scrapes it has be come comical. This season I started off right.
That tiny patch of ice I mentioned? That was me… Walking out to the truck to bring some things in. I saunter along navigating the space around the open door to get to the items to carry in and ZIP… before you know it there I lay. Four long stripes trail the dirt on the side of the door where I’d tried to grasp at anything in a desperate attempt to right myself. To no avail… I lay battered on the icy driveway in varying degrees of agony as I grasp my elbow with my good arm while holding my knee unable to let go with the other. The frigid ground robbing me of any warmth. With its sly promise of pain relief and assistance with the fast growing swelling, I lay on the icy ground thanking it for its kind offer as it slowly executes its evil plan.
Winter is no joke in many places, in a flash we can find ourselves thanking the very element that brings us down. Hypothermia can kill and it is imperative that we keep in mind this offer of pain relief is simply a ruse meant to trick your mind preoccupied with the body’s current agony into thinking you aren’t really cold. Confusion associated with hypothermia will often prevent self awareness.
Signs and symptoms of hypothermia include:
- Slurred speech or mumbling
- Slow, shallow breathing
- Weak pulse
- Clumsiness or lack of coordination
- Drowsiness or very low energy
- Confusion or memory loss
- Loss of consciousness
- Bright red, cold skin (in infants)
Staying warm in cold weather is necessary. Things like cold water, icy ground, wind, and lack of appropriate covering will inhibit the body’s ability to keep itself warm. Remember this simply acronym C-O-L-D.
- Cover. Wear a hat or other protective covering to prevent body heat from escaping from your head, face, and neck. Cover your hands with mittens instead of gloves.
- Overexertion. Avoid activities that would cause you to sweat a lot. The combination of wet clothing and cold weather can cause you to lose body heat more quickly.
- Layers. Wear loose-fitting, layered, lightweight clothing. Outer clothing made of tightly woven, water-repellent material is best for wind protection. Wool, silk, or polypropylene inner layers hold body heat better than cotton does.
- Dry. Stay as dry as possible. Get out of wet clothing as soon as possible. Be especially careful to keep your hands and feet dry, as it’s easy for snow to get into mittens and boots.
OH…and wear boots that are less likely to slip on the ice. Don’t be Auntie Boo Boo and wear sneakers out into the icy weather, where the white harbinger of death awaits its next unsuspecting victim.