Cold Injury Avoidance

How to prevent hypothermia.

DRINK lots, EAT well (Water permitting), don’t SWEAT,
REST before you are exhausted always make sure you are insulated from the ground and the WEATHER.

Hypothermia occurs because your core temperature falls too low.

The body loses heat in five ways:
  1. RESPIRATION: Cover mouth and nose area with scarf.
  2. EVAPORATION: Don’t sweat.
  3. CONDUCTION: Sit and sleep on an insulated mat.
  4. RADIATION: Wear a hat, scarf, and gloves.
  5. CONVECTION: Wear breathable fabrics, if the sweat can’t escape, you get WET, add wind and you chill fast.

To avoid hypothermia remember the acronym C.O.L.D.
“C” Keep CLEAN
“O” Don’t overheat, make sure you keep hydrated
“L” Layers rule. If you get hot, remove layers BUT remember to ADD layers if you stop and cool down.
“D” Most important thing is to remain dry.

Make camp early, don’t wait until you are exhausted. Get out of the weather, build a fire, make your shelter as secure, dry, cosy, and as draught free as you can, drink something hot, and water allowing, eat.
Regarding your boots.
Clean them, bag them, store in the base of sleeping bag then you won’t get frostbite from wet, frozen footwear.

Cold Injuries

Chilblains  and Chilled exposed skin.
Are caused by exposure to temperatures from 0 to 15 Celsius (32 to 60 Fahrenheit). 
The cold exposure causes damage to the capillary beds (groups of small blood vessels) in the skin. 
This damage is permanent and recurrent i.e. get cold again and it will return.
The redness and itching occurs on all exposed skin i.e. Cheeks, ears, fingers, and toes. 

First Aid, get out of the cold and any wet clothing.

Carefully dry the area, elevate the limb covering it with loose warm clothing and slowly warm it with natural body heat.
Avoid scratching. Use cortico-steroid creams to relieve itching and swelling.
Keep blisters and ulcers clean and covered.

Frost Nip
Your skin has a little sensation, and feels waxy with the top layer hard or rubbery.
The deeper tissue is still soft, and it looks white.
First Aid, Shelter, dry out, keep warm

Immerse the affected area in warm “body heat” water round 98.6 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 37 to 37.5 degrees Celsius to thaw out the frozen tissue.
If you can’t use hot water, then use pure body heat.
Never use heat pads or stoves / fireplaces.
Heating has to be slow and gentle and all over. 

Don’t rub or massage the skin until it has re-warmed.
The skin is VERY susceptible to refreezing for at least 24 hours. 

Freezing of Cornea.
Caused by forcing the eyes open during strong freezing winds without goggles. 
Place a warm hand or compress over the closed eye.
After rewarming the eyes must be completely covered with patches for 24 – 48 hours.

Eyelashes freezing together
Put a warm hand over your eye until the ice melts.

Snow blindness.
Most symptoms occur 8-12 hours after exposure.
Eyes feel dry, irritated, full of sand, moving or blinking becomes extremely painful, light hurts, eyelids swell, red streaming eyes,
Treatment is cold compresses and a dark environment until pain stops. 
Do not rub the eyes.
Prevent by wearing wrap round POLARIZED sun glasses.

A common failing of people in a cold environment is they do not drink enough and get dehydrated.

Chapped lips 
Caused by a loss of moisture in lip skin. Avoid licking your lips, stay hydrated.
Avoid smoking, coffee, and alcohol as they all dry out the skin. 
Protect the skin from cold damage by smoothing on lip balm or petroleum jelly (Vaseline).

Trench Foot.
Caused by long immersion in water or damp socks.
You can lose heat 25 x faster when your feet are damp or wet. 
More than 6 hours does permanent damage, 
More then 24 hours can lead to the loss of a foot.  

Caution: Don’t make people walk. i.e. carry them.
Treat by careful washing and drying of the feet, gentle rewarming and slight elevation. 

Change into dry socks and boots.

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