Winter is Coming: Are you safe from hypothermia?

Some of the best hunting happens during winter weather, but cold temperatures also increase the risks to hunters. A good hunter is prepared for extreme weather and knows how to prevent dangers like hypothermia.

Hypothermia is caused when your body loses heat faster than it can produce it, causing your core body temperature to drop. You’re at risk for hypothermia in cold, wet conditions, but it can occur at warmer temperatures than you’d expect—as high as 50℉!

Even if there is no precipitation, moisture from your sweat, humidity, or dew can soak into your clothing, chilling your body in cool air. Wet clothing draws heat out of your body more quickly than cold air alone, and wind evaporates the moisture but also lowers your body temperature. You aren’t safe even when you’re in a shelter: Sitting or resting against a cold surface can also draw heat out from your body.

It all adds up to your body being too cold. And when that happens, you develop hypothermia. Symptoms include:

  • Uncontrolled shivering
  • Slow, slurred speech
  • Memory loss
  • Irrational behavior (such as removing clothing)
  • Lack of body movement
  • Sleeplessness
  • Unconsciousness

How can you prevent hypothermia while hunting?

Preparation is the key to preventing hypothermia in the field.

Dress properly, in warm layers. Avoid cotton, which retains moisture.

  • Wear water-repelling outer clothing.
    • Bring rain gear.
    • Avoid going out in dangerous weather conditions.
  • Dry out as quickly as possible when you do get wet.
  • Bring high-calorie foods (such as chocolate or peanuts) as a snack. These foods help your body get quick energy to produce warmth.
  • Bring emergency supplies, including a thermal foil blanket and something to create a shelter, such as a nylon tarp.

Winter is coming. Stay warm, and stay safe!