Recognizing, Preventing, and Treating Hypothermia

Learn more about recognizing, preventing, and treating hypothermia before it is too late!

| March 2018

  • Hypothermia is the one of the most common winter camping injuries.
    Photo by Pixabay/Noel_Bauza
  • “The Winter Camping Handbook” by Stephen Gorman helps readers safely embrace the wonders of winter camping.
    Photo courtesy of Countryman Press

The Winter Camping Handbook (Countryman Press, 2016) by Stephen Gorman gives readers all of the information to making camping safely in the winter entirely possible and fun. Gorman helps his readers properly prepare to face the challenging conditions that come with camping in the winter, and how to overcome the worst obstacles of the harsh season. In the following excerpt, he goes through the signs and stages of hypothermia, as well as precautions to take to prevent it.

Wherever you go at whatever time of year, there are environmental hazards. Beachgoers must avoid sunburn. Suburban gardeners keep an eye out for poison ivy and ticks. Every place has its dangers, but when they’re known and precautions are taken, they can be avoided.

The outdoors in winter has its own perils for the unprepared. Compounding the problem, these situations can be brought on or aggravated by the existence of the more common stresses facing a wilderness traveler: fatigue, dehydration, and the usual assorted knocks, scrapes, and bruises. The winter camper must exhibit an especially high level of awareness and vigilance when it comes to dealing with environmental hazards.

The most important and common winter camping hazards are hypothermia (the condition of having a lower-than-normal body temperature) and frostbite (the freezing of body tissues). These are medical emergencies occurring when the body is stressed to an excessive degree by the effects of cold weather. Another fairly common winter injury is snowblindness (the condition of having sunburned the eyes). Snowblindness happens when the eyes absorb high levels of ultraviolet radiation.

All of these conditions are preventable, yet every winter camper should be familiar with the symptoms and treatment of these cold- weather injuries.


Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can be generated. If the loss isn’t arrested and the situation brought under control, hypothermia can be fatal.

3/21/2018 6:25:55 PM

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