Winter survival medicine: tips for cold weather.

Two Days in Sub-Zero Weather: How These Adults and Kids Survived—Well

An in-the-news extra post for the week. by James Hubbard, MD, MPH A man, a woman, and four children survived in the Nevada mountains for 48 hours in an overturned car that wouldn’t start (no heater). The temperature got down to well below zero … and they came away with only mild hypothermia. Of course, when things like that happen, I always try to find some takeaway lessons, and this situation has some good ones: […]

By | December 12th, 2013|Cold, Weather|40 Comments

Santa’s Bugging Out: 11 Survival Gifts He Should Drop at Your House

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH Don’t you love receiving a gift that you can really use? One that says the gifter must have really thought about you personally before buying it? And don’t you just love it when you come upon that perfect gift for someone? One that will brighten their day? I’ve picked out my 10 favorite gifts that I think most everyone should have on hand for camping, hiking, or just-in-case emergencies that can happen at any time. […]

By | December 2nd, 2013|Cold, General, Weather|15 Comments

47 Ways You’re Preparing for Winter Survival This Year

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH People, I hate to tell you, but it’s time to start preparing for the winter. Very soon the holidays will kick into full gear. Everyone will be shopping. Everyone will be more rushed. It’s a fantastic time of year, but before you get into that holiday season of peace on Earth, how about preparing now for a little peace of mind? To that end, I asked my Facebook followers how they’re prepping for the winter. Their answers were so insightful that I thought you’d enjoy reading some of them.* (By the way, for medical supply suggestions, download my free list.) […]

By | November 11th, 2013|Cold, Weather|19 Comments

How to Keep Winter Skin Seasoned Like a Cast-Iron Skillet

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH Winter can do a number on your skin. Add the cold to the dry air, mix in a little wind, and it can be downright dangerous—potentially life-threatening if you tend to ignore it and don’t properly treat the damage. How many of us have gone out to play on a cold winter’s day, only to go to bed that night with a red, raw, painful face? It can be from sunburn or windburn, but usually it’s both. Cracks in the dry skin—even blisters—can occur. If the skin gets infected, that can be dangerous. If you can’t get to a medical facility, it could be even deadly. But there are simple things you can do to prevent this damage. Basically, just keep your skin well-seasoned, like a cast-iron skillet. […]

By | February 7th, 2013|Cold, Skin, Weather|7 Comments

How to Walk in the Snow Without Falling (Much)

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH I thought when I moved to Colorado, people would know how to walk in the snow without falling. They’re used to it, right? Not so. In fact, in every area of the country I’ve practiced, some of the worst breaks, bruises, cuts, and dislocations come from people slipping down in the snow. Sometimes they’re in a hurry, like shopping, or like you would be in an emergency. Okay, I’ll admit it. Many years ago, I was running to an ambulance, slipped on the one piece of ice still left over from a freeze, and broke my ankle. I wasn’t much help after that. […]

By | January 3rd, 2013|Cold, Weather|20 Comments

Carbon Monoxide: How Your Choice of Heat Can Kill You

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. CDC. A family of four found is found dead in a two-room tent with the propane heater still running. The cause of death: carbon monoxide poisoning. A father and son fall asleep in their charcoal-heated tent. They don’t wake up. Your choice of heat can kill you without singeing a hair. Carbon monoxide is colorless and orderless—a silent killer. It’ s the leading cause of poisoning deaths. How can you ensure you or your family isn’t its next victim? When you’re camping or the heat goes off, remember that unless you have a working chimney, makeshift heating may be your greatest danger. […]

By | February 16th, 2012|Cold, Weather|36 Comments

Stranded With Frostbite? 17 Dos and Don’ts

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. In my last post, I talked about how Olympic gold-medal winner Rulon Gardner saved most of his foot despite severe frostbite. The main thing is, he didn’t rewarm it while there was still a chance of the tissue refreezing. (If it had refrozen, it would have been dead meat—literally.) And of course, he was able to get to a medical facility. But what if you can’t get expert care? What if you’re stranded in some shack or tent? Here are some first-aid dos and don’ts for severe frostbite when help is not on the way. […]

By | February 14th, 2012|Cold, Weather|5 Comments

Frozen Foot? When Not to Rewarm It

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Relatively speaking, losing just one toe and a couple of toe tips was pretty much a best-case scenario for Rulon Gardner. He could have lost his entire foot—and some people would have in the same situation. As I talked about Tuesday, the Olympic gold-medal wrestler survived being stranded on a mountainside for seventeen hours in 2002. His right shoe was frozen to his foot. I imagine the tissue was gray or white and hard to the touch, frozen with severe frostbite. But Rulon did a few things that saved his foot—things anyone in the same situation could do, high-level athlete or average joe. […]

By | February 9th, 2012|Cold, Weather|1 Comment

What an Olympian’s Brush With Death Teaches Us About Frostbite

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Rulon Gardner is one megatough dude. He’s a local celebrity here in Colorado (Olympic wresting gold medalist and The Biggest Loser participant). A giant of a guy, he was stranded for something like seventeen hours on the side of a mountain after a snowmobile accident in 2002. You can read his story in Sports Illustrated. They found him almost dead from hypothermia. His right shoe was frozen to his foot. He survived and is back to competitive wrestling. He lost the tips of both big toes, all of his right middle one, and a lot of skin. But it could have been so much worse. We can learn a lot about frostbite from his experience. […]

By | February 7th, 2012|Cold, Weather|Comments Off on What an Olympian’s Brush With Death Teaches Us About Frostbite

Trench Foot: How to Save Your Feet in a Flood

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Trench foot, also called immersion foot, was common in soldiers who had to spend hours upon hours standing in trenches with cold water up to their ankles or knees. But it can occur in anyone who stands in cold water (33 to 59 F) or wears wet socks or shoes for long periods in the cold. It usually takes ten hours or longer of these constant conditions—the cooler the quicker. Think campers or water-related disasters. The constant cold wetness injures the tiny blood vessels that bring nutrition to your feet, leading to foot-tissue damage. Problems range from burning and aching to muscle, nerve, and skin destruction. Trench foot can trigger years of painful, swollen feet, or even partial loss of a foot or feet. There’s no real cure for trench foot, so prevention is essential. […]

By | February 2nd, 2012|Cold, Weather|18 Comments