Dangers of Hypothermia ~ Prepare and Prevent

As much fun as off-roading in the snow can be, hypothermia is a real risk, one that can result in death. Being fully prepared before heading out can make the difference if you survive the trip if something should go wrong. From the El Paso County Search and Rescue, here is a list of preparedness tips and items needed in winter survival.

Compliments of El Paso County Search & Rescue

Layers Polypropylene/Capilene – next to skin, wicking layer
Synthetics/ wool/pile – insulation layer
Windproof shell – ie Gore-tex 2. Mittens – better than gloves
Hat – over 50% heat loss through head

Hypothermia Symptoms
98.6 Normal body temperature.
95.0 Paleness, drowsiness, listlessness, shivering. Then mental confusion, armpits and abdomen become cold, blue lips, goose bumps.
93.2 Loss of memory, movements slow and hard, irrational behavior hands can no longer hold things.
91.4 Shaking stops, unconsciousness, shallow breathing, 50% chance of survival.
89.6 Slow weakened pulse. Heart may stop. 30% chance of survival.
68-77 Heart stops.

Remove wet clothing and replace with dry as soon as possible. Feed the victim warm drinks, tea, coffee or hot soup if the victim is conscious and able to drink. May need to help victim warm up with additional heat source such as heat packs, hot water bottles or even placing a warm dry body in contact with the victim in a sleeping bag.

Cold, stinging, then numbness in extremities. Discoloration of flesh First white, then gray, then yellowish-gray, then blueish-purple, indicates increasing severity of frostbite.
Remove wet clothing, cover exposed skin. Try to warm injured area and keep from refreezing. Do not rub injured area with snow. Warm water at 104 degrees if possible.

Stranded in Vehicle
Don’t panic – do not keep pushing on if visibility is very poor. Stay with the vehicle, better shelter and easier to find. Run motor to keep warm. Keep window cracked for air. Keep tailpipe clear to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Eat and drink fluids to maintain the ability to generate body heat. Drink even if you do not feel thirsty.
Exercise – move your arms and legs to help stay warm.

Written by Andrew

"You're telling me it's got four wheels, two seats and goes faster than the speed limit? Good, I'm driving."


  1. I got a touch of frost bite last winter. My Jeep got stuck in a big drift and I thought I could get it out by myself. Actually, I did, but it took too long and by the time I got home I had several black spots on the back of my leg and near my ankle. I had no idea what it was so I called my doctor and he had me come right in so he could see it. You do need to be aware that the cold is a menacing factor.


  2. It’s bad enough when the temps drop to below freezing but when they add the wind chill in it makes me even colder just thinking about it. I don’t even have to go outside to get chilled.


  3. We live in upstate NY and weget a lot of lake effect snow since we live just 3 miles from lake Ontario. Sometimes we have to dig our way out of the basement and go out through the wood shed just to be able to tunnel out to the barn to get to our vehicles. The trusty old Jeep is probably our most reliable. We can relate to hypothermia up here!


  4. The wind can be brutal, especially when the temperature goes down to the teens and single digits. It’s necessary to cover up exposed skin with a scarf or mask over your face as well as head covering and gloves. It doesn’t take that much wind at all to do damage when the temps are down that low.


  5. As I get older I sure notice the cold more than I ever have before in my life. I’ve heard of people who didn’t take the necessary precautions and died from exposure. I like being off road in the winter snow, but I’m very careful about how I do it.


  6. Winter weather is nothing to mess around with. When those temperatures drop, especially if they are being driven down by the wind, it can get really bitter, really quick. You only get one life, take care of it the first time around.


  7. Those symptoms are pretty scary. I always am very careful about dressing for the weather and being prepared in case I get stranded. Oh yeah, I never travel alone. During the winter I have at least another Jeep if not 2 on the trails. You just never know when you’ll need a buddy.


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