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4 Hidden Dangers Of Winter That Can Kill You

4 Hidden Dangers Of Winter That Can Kill You

Image source: Pixabay.com

Even for the seasoned outdoorist, it’s good to review wintertime safety protocols so that they are fresh in your mind.

Too often we become relaxed, believing that nothing bad will happen to us. Yet things don’t always go as planned, and it is better to be safe than sorry.

Here are four wintertime safety and awareness issues that everyone should keep in mind.

1. Watch out for black ice.

Black ice is ice hidden under the snow. It can be on roads, walkways, steps or even in your yard where the ground is hard. Fresh snow can create the illusion that it is safe to walk on it. An unexpected fall on ice can lead to serious injuries – and if you hit your head, even death.

Sometimes, though, walking on ice in unavoidable. If so, walk like a penguin. Yes, a penguin! Waddling like a penguin allows you to maintain balance by centering your upper body over your legs. Simply hold your arms out at your sides, keep your feet shoulder distance apart, and take small, waddling steps. Remember to breathe and to stay limber, as well. If you do fall, keeping limber can protect your body from injury, as being too stiff can make injuries worse. Also, try to land on your bum or upper thighs where you have more padding, as opposed to trying to stop the fall with your hands, which can result in fractures or breaks.

2. Know the signs of frostbite.

Frostnip is the tingling feeling that happens first, and it is a warning sign that your body parts are becoming too cold. When you feel tingling in your fingers, hands, toes, feet, nose or ears, it is a sign that you need to warm up. If you ignore the signs, it can lead to frostbite. During this first stage, you will notice redness, and it might be painful, but permanent damage will not occur as long as you take action.

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4 Hidden Dangers Of Winter That Can Kill You

Image source: Pixabay.com

Frostbite begins when your skin becomes numb and starts to turn pale, or even white. You may start to feel warm, but this is not a good sign at this stage because it is an adverse reaction to the frostbite. If not treated immediately, the skin of the affected body parts will start to die and will turn black.

As your body tries to fight the frostbite, you may experience intense shivering, loss of coordination, slurred speech and drowsiness. It is imperative to seek warmth and emergency help as soon as possible.

3. Monitor carbon monoxide levels.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, invisible gas. Without taking proper measures, you will not know it is present until it is too late. Therefore, it is imperative to keep a carbon monoxide detector in your home and any other place where you use a heat source.

Carbon monoxide can be produced from a natural gas or wood fireplace, as well as from kerosene and similarly fueled heaters. A good way to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning is to have your equipment checked each season and ensure there is proper ventilation.

Here are the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • A dull headache.
  • Weakness.
  • Dizziness.
  • Nausea.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Vomiting.
  • Confusion.
  • Loss of consciousness.

Don’t let these symptoms fool you into thinking you simply have the flu, especially if you use one of the heat sources mentioned. Get outside immediately in the fresh air. Call 911 as soon as possible and have your home and source tested for the leak.

4. Watch for the signs of hypothermia.

Don’t take shivering lightly. It could be a sign that your core body temperature is dropping. Shivering doesn’t mean you are in danger yet, however. You still have time to act. If the shivering becomes uncontrollable, more than likely hypothermia is setting in. It is imperative that you get to a warm place soon.

Know the signs of hypothermia:

  • You experience
  • You start to feel clumsy.
  • You begin to feel drowsy.
  • The shivering becomes uncontrollable.
  • The shivering stops
  • Your speech is slurred.
  • You notice you are making poor decisions.
  • Your energy levels are dropping fast.

Treatments for hypothermia:

  • Remove any wet clothing.
  • Keep moving. You need to raise your body temperature.
  • Move toward warmth and a shelter if possible.
  • Begin re-warming with dry clothing, blankets, heat packs or by a fire.
  • Drink hot liquids — but, not alcohol or caffeine, which can aid in heat loss.

Remember that other hazards are possible too, such as injuries from shoveling snow. Be smart, be aware, and do things as safely as possible.

It is better to be prepared for wintertime emergencies than not to be. You never know when you might find yourself in a survival situation.

What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

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3 comments

  1. Yep, just literally fell victim to the ice. Carelessly, stepped on to a concrete pad entering the side of my garage. One step and I landed flat on my back and head bounced off the concrete. Luckily, was wearing a tobagan which helped soften the blow. Grateful I was not injured other than a severe headache.
    I hate winter. 😟

  2. The greatest danger in winter was not listed — water. Water in the form of sweat and leakage of snow into the outerwear. 8x more conductive of heat from the body than air. It is the primary method that leads to half the threats listed in this article.

    * Don’t wear cotton against the skin. It retains water raising your heat loss dramatically.
    * Each wearable layar must provide a way for water to escape.
    * The outer shell should be so worn like tiles top to bottom and that the shell has a way for water to escape.

    • And water under ice, once you fall in and get out aka hypothermia.
      While hunting deep in the snowy woods of UP in Michigan (at least 3 miles back), spotted some deer up hillside. But had to cross a frozen over small 6 ft wide stream to get to them, saw a 3 ft wide tree fallen across the stream. Started across that fallen tree only to realize there was ice under the snow, could feel my feet slipping off, decide to jump for the side of the stream. Went up to my armpits through the ice with one hand on the bank (rifle still in hand), and one on the fallen tree. No way I could have known that little stream was that deep.
      Needless to say, I knew I was in trouble. Tossed the rifle further up on the bank, pulled myself up out of the water, standing there in 17 degree weather soaking wet. Knew I had only a few minutes to take action. Found the nearest deadfall, began to break a part a rotted stump, broke small branches, pulling larger stuff closer, put together small stuff for a fire, tucked TP I had under it all and used my waterproof matches that I had in a water tight container with the TP. Wasn’t that hard to do in the open (never light fire under a tree in winter). Moved my rifle closer to fire.
      Then I started stripping off my clothes, everything except my hat. Used the side of the stump to stand on, broke branches to hang clothing on around fire. Used the larger stuff that I dragged earlier to make the fire larger. Had to face one way for a few minutes, than another to warm up one side of my body, then the other. I bet I was something to see out there with just a bright hunter orange hat on….LOL
      Took about an hour to dry everything except one pair of wool socks, got dressed as stuff dried, finally all dressed, checked rifle to make sure it wasn’t frozen, pulled out compass and headed out of the woods to my vehicle.
      Conclusion:
      1. Be prepared for anything in the woods, especially in winter.
      2. Keep ability to make a fire in water tight container ie matches, and some type of fuel to light.
      3. Don’t panic, know that once wet like that, you will not be able to go far, time is against you.
      4. Don’t depend on anything electric once it gets wet.
      5. And most important of all, use your brain, either learn beforehand and use knowledge of how to survive in harsh winter conditions when alone, don’t depend on help, because if you do, by the time someone comes along, you’ll be dead.

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