Winter campers face hazards that spring primarily from the cold temperatures in which they hike and camp. The winter camper must take extra care to keep warm and protected from the elements. Refer to our Health sections: Prevent frostbite, Prevent hypothermia, Frostbite, Hypothermia
.A hypothermic condition can arise very quickly.
You may not feel at all cold when hiking in a cool rain. But as soon as you stop, your body stops producing heat. You may begin to lose crucial motor skills and may not be able to open your pack, unwrap a granola bar, or strike a match. Hypothermic victims often don't know they are in danger, and sometimes want to lie down and go to sleep. If they sleep, they usually die.Precautions to help prevent hypothermia.
- Bundle up and fuel up on high-energy foods before you begin to get chilled.
- Don't stay too long on a windy summit during a rainy day or in a cold stream. Your body can cool down faster than you think - especially in wet or windy conditions.
- Always have a dry change of clothes, even if it means getting up in the morning and changing into cold, wet clothes. A set of dry clothes at the end of the day could save your life. Unless you are in danger of suffering from hypothermia when you get up, wet clothes will warm on your body as soon as you start moving.
- If you are cold in the morning when you wake up or at night before bed, do some exercises in your sleeping bag (sit-ups, squeeze your buttocks, press your legs or hands together) and have a hot drink. You have a better chance of staying warm if you don't start out cold.
- Wear a hat and gloves. Most of your body heat is lost through your head, and it is important to keep your fingers warm and nimble.
- Dress in layers of synthetics, fleece, or wool. Cotton kills. If you are wearing cotton and you start to get wet and chilled, it is best to take off the cotton and replace it with a non-cotton shirt or just a jacket.
- Don't wear an extra layer of socks. Your toes need to move to stay warm.
- If it looks like it is going to rain, have a snack since you may not want to stop for a snack in the middle of a downpour. Also, if you are resting at a shelter and it looks like it might rain, consider whether it is worth pressing on.
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