Former Army Ranger Shares Winter Survival Tips

Surviving in brutal winter conditions takes preparation, and the right procedures. Fortunately, an ER physician and former Army Ranger is sharing his knowledge, the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) reports.

You never know when you’ll be in a desperate fight for survival. Each year, motorists get stranded in frigid places, while others are suddenly left without power during winter storms.

Jedidiah Ballard, DO, an osteopathic emergency physician and former Army Ranger, says that having a plan and some basic gear is key to survival in such situations.

He offers these tips:

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

These are truly words to live by.

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