If your heater goes out during the winter, or you’re stranded in your car, you need to be prepared to handle extremely cold temperatures to survive. It’s estimated that severely cold temperatures kill 20 times more than extreme heat, so with this guide you will be best-prepared in handling cold temperatures in a worst-case scenario.
How To Survive Very Cold Temperatures
Home Preparation (If Possible)
The best solution to any crisis is being prepared for the worst-case scenario, in this case the heat going out.
First, create a home emergency kit and store it in a safe space. The emergency kit should include food, water, flashlights, and spare battery banks that could last you for several days in a worst case scenario.
For example, if there is a huge blizzard and the heater also goes out, you may not be able to receive help from other people. Be prepared to handle everything on your own, even if it’s an unlikely situation.
Your emergency kit should have power for phones so that you can contact help immediately. If the heat goes out, the electricity may be at risk for going out also, so you will want to have power to contact help as soon as possible.
We also recommend getting your home inspected at least once a year to ensure that it’s in top-quality condition for handling the winter.
Many people forget that you can also have water, pipes, chimney, and roof issues when it comes to house problems.
By preventing other issues from happening beforehand, you make it that much easier to focus on a lack of heat, instead of struggling with multiple issues at the same time.
Whether stuck in your home or car, eliminate all entrances/exits from the cold outside. Check for cracks & holes which may allow some cold air to sneak in.
Even one small hole can create a very noticeable difference in temperature. Verify that windows are sealed completely, and if you feel colder getting closer to the windows, it may be wise to add some extra protection (if possible) by sealing it shut through other means.
The sun is a great source of heat. When the sun is out, make sure that no curtains are blocking the sun in windows that can receive the sunlight. If you are beginning to get cold, warm up in the sunlight!
Gas Heat Danger
Be careful that you are not using gasoline-powered heating sources to stay warm. For example, cars burn gasoline and create heat as a result. If you are locked in a garage and leave the car running, it is possible to get carbon monoxide poisoning.
If there’s a strange smell or the heat source makes you dizzy, it would be wiser to turn it off unless you think you’re developing hypothermia (more on this later).
Instead light candles, turn on electrical devices, and snuggle up to stay warm.
Layer Up/Get Close
The human body is always releasing lots of heat. Cover yourself up completely with no room for warm air to escape. The more layers the better.
Start out by breathing under the blankets & items covering you up, and then after you warm up a little bit expose only your nose for fresh air and keep the rest of your body completely covered up tight.
If you’re with other people, do this together. Stay close, hug each other, and your body heat will compound and warm you up faster than you would imagine!
Hypothermia occurs when the inside of your body gets too cold. Hypothermia can be deadly, and so you should know the signs of hypothermia beforehand. Call for help long before you think you’re developing hypothermia.
Mild hypothermia is characterized by severe shivering & a loss of coordination. Your body is losing energy rapidly, and you shivering uncontrollably and intensely. You begin to lose coordination and simple tasks may begin to get harder.
Moderate/Severe hypothermia is characterized by slurred speech, severe energy loss & extreme fatigue; weak pulse, shivering stops, and unexplained heat.
If you at any point stop shivering or begin to feel warm, seek help immediately. Get active, get yourself alert and dash to the nearest hospital or call for help.
A bit of shivering is normal in cooler temperatures, but if you begin to feel “off,” that’s a danger sign. Don’t play around with hypothermia.
Tip: to keep your hands warm, place them under your armpits. Your armpits are almost always the warmest part of your body, and this will prevent your fingers from becoming damaged from severe cold.
Many people associate dehydration as something that only happens in warm climates such as a desert. This is not the case.
In cold temperatures, it can actually be easier to get dehydrated because you may not be as conscious of your thirst. Make sure you have water with you, and it’s best to drink it warm.
Never eat snow because your body will waste energy in warming up the snow inside of you. Snow will keep you cold and potentially get your body wet.
Don’t Get Wet
It is much easier to survive cold air temperatures than people would imagine. Surviving cold water temperatures is a different story.
Being wet makes you significantly more cold and burns a ton of energy fast. Stay dry, and protect yourself from rain/snow.
If you can’t layer up, get active. Do jumping jacks, push-ups, and sit-ups. Move your body to get the blood flowing, and this will also burn energy keeping your body warm.
In tough situations, you may be required to adapt. Think in terms of “solutions,” not in terms of “problems.”
Be creative in the moment, and act fast. The cold & hypothermia will sneak up on you, so act fast to prevent yourself from getting harmed.
Of course, it’s always better to prepare extensively when you know you’ll be in cold temperatures.
We hope you enjoyed this article and will stay safe for the rest of the winter.
Thanks for reading! –Wildlife X Team International