Surviving Extreme Cold

By American Osteopathic Association, Special for  USDR

Severe winter weather can pose a deadly threat. Having a plan and some basic gear is key to survival, according to Jedidiah Ballard, DO, an osteopathic emergency physician and former Army  Ranger.

Dr. Ballard, named the 2016 “Ultimate Men’s Health Guy”, has advice that can save lives in winter’s worst case scenarios, like becoming  stranded.

1. Pack the  car
If you drive, keep an extra coat, gloves, wool socks and a liter of water in your  vehicle.

2. Stay  Dry
Water saps body heat 27 times faster than dry cold. Wear a water-wicking base layer, either wool or synthetic, when outside for extended periods of  time.

3. Hydrate
You won’t usually feel thirsty in cold weather because of cold-diuresis, a process in which the body shunts blood inward to the organs to prevent heat from escaping through the extremities. This creates the feeling that you’re well hydrated. However, it also makes the kidneys filter more blood and produce more urine, which in turn makes you have to pee. So you’re actually actively dehydrating. It is vitally important that you maintain water intake despite not feeling  thirsty.

4. Protect  extremities
Frostbite sets in within 30 minutes in temperatures of 0° and within 10 minutes at -10°. Because our body parts get numb in subfreezing temps, you won’t know it’s happened until you begin to thaw. So, it’s vital that you wear gloves and a hat to protect vulnerable extremities like fingers and  ears.

5. If stranded, sit  tight
Unless you know there is shelter within a mile, stay in your car. It is far more likely in a blizzard to get lost and have your safety compromised than if you stay in a car and are at least protected from wind and getting  wet.

6. Know the signs of carbon monoxide  poisoning
This is especially true if you use a fuel-burning space heater in your home. Pay attention if you feel light-headed, dizzy or nauseous, or notice your pets acting funny. In such cases, get out of the house and get to an ER immediately. If stuck in your car, make sure the exhaust pipe is clear so carbon monoxide doesn’t back up into the  car.

About the American Osteopathic  Association
The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) represents more than 129,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs) and osteopathic medical students; promotes public health; encourages scientific research; serves as the primary certifying body for DOs; and is the accrediting agency for osteopathic medical  schools.

SOURCE American Osteopathic  Association

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