Living in the colder climates isn't as dangerous as it used to be. In the early days of the city, people had very little to protect them from the harsh winters and frequently suffered or even died from overexposure. Life threatening conditions like hypothermia aren't as common now, but can still present a danger in certain situations. Learn more about hypothermia and how you can protect yourself from it here.
Hypothermia is a dangerous condition when your body's core temperature drops below 35 degrees Celsius. At this temperature, it's not able to metabolize food or function properly, which means if the condition is not remedied quickly it can lead to death. Hypothermia can quickly come on if the temperature outside your home is very low. The lowest recorded body temperature anyone has ever recovered from is 13 degrees Celsius.
There are certain situations in which it is important to watch yourself and your companions for signs of hypothermia. Being outdoors in the winter for long periods of time without adequate protection, especially after sweating, can cause hypothermia, as can falling through the ice on a lake or river. Hypothermia often affects winter campers, mountain climbers, ice fishers, snowmobilers, and swimmers. Most deaths occur in situations where the sufferer is alone, so using a buddy system is very important during outdoor winter activities.
You have probably already experienced the symptoms of mild hypothermia at some point in your life, perhaps even while sitting on your deck in the fall. They begin as shivers, high blood sugar, and confusion. In the moderate range, shivering is violent and uncontrollable and accompanied by poor coordination, paleness, and blue extremities. Severe hypothermia brings on amnesia, stupor, organ failure, and the inability to move or speak. They may burrow into small spaces or even start to undress in the final stages.
To protect yourself from hypothermia, bundle up if you're venturing out in to cold weather. Avoid alcohol and do all you can to stay dry. If you come across a person suffering from hypothermia, remove them from the cold environment and get them into clean dry clothes. For moderate hypothermia, shared body heat, forced warm air, or hot water bottles at the armpits and groin will help. For severe hypothermia patients will need to be warmed intravenously at a hospital.