You are cold… or one of your camping buddies is cold. What to do?
Get Dry – Find a spot sheltered from the wind and, if possible, in the sun. Remove wet clothing, including socks and underwear, and don the warmest, driest layers you have; cover your head and neck, too. No dry clothes? Start a fire. Also, insulate yourself from the ground with a pad or pack.
Warm Things Up – Still shivering or feeling clumsy? You need to raise your body temperature fast. Pitch a tent and unroll your sleeping bag inside, so it’s ready. Do jumping jacks, and cook up a warm drink that has no caffeine or alcohol (both are diuretics, and dehydration hampers temperature regulation). Sugary drinks and foods boost a hypothermic person’s ability to generate body heat.
Treat Hypothermia – Slurred speech, resisting help, and confusion signal hypothermia’s downward spiral. If those symptoms develop, zip the victim into a dry sleeping bag, treat for shock by raising his feet, and place a water bottle or bladder filled with lukewarm—not hot—water against his chest, back, groin, and head. Before you strip naked to spoon with your buddy, know that a 1994 Canadian study in the Journal of Applied Physiology showed that body-to-body contact doesn’t warm up hypothermia victims any faster than applying heated water bottles at these key areas. Plus, it chills another person.
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