To build a fire, or not to build a fire, that is the question. It’s a fairly simple debate in most instances of survival. If you can build a fire you should. However, when the plains are swarming with mobs of undead looking to munch upon your brains you’ve got to be slightly more tactical about things.
As a general rule, as long as nobody is in emergency territory, you should just be content with being a bit cold. I’ve got a few tricks you can use to keep warm:
1. Eat closer to bedtime. You body needs fuel in order to generate heat. Think about it.
2. Build a fort. Remember how you used to do this when you were a kid? Using household crap? Do it now. The smaller the area you are inside, the less distance the dispersing heat can travel from your body, and the better your chance of staying warm. There’s a reason why homeless people sleep in refrigerator boxes.
3. Use the 3 W’s. Wicking, Warming, and Wind. Your local boyscout troop can school you on this one. When layering clothing, the first layer should wick moisture away from the skin. Think athletic socks, or long underwear. The less moisture that touches your skin, the warmer you’ll feel. The next layer on top of that should be about generating warmth. Wearing fleece, wool, or any other thick material made to keep you toasty should do the trick. The last is wind, as in keeping it away from you. A wind and waterproof shell will keep unwanted moisture and wind chill away from your skin. Many companies like The North Face and Columbia make jackets and coats that incorporate the warmth and wind layers together. Not a bad prepper item to purchase.
But, let’s say it’s too late. How do you know when you’re dealing with hypothermia?
Tips for diagnosing hypothermia:
1. Got a thermometer? Maybe you should get one. They don’t all require batteries, you know. If your core body temp is below 95 degrees, you’re in a world of shit. However, 96 or 97 degrees is also cause for concern.
2. Watch for the “umbles.” Mumbles, grumbles, stumbles, and fumbles. These are clues that your motor skills are suffering, and it means you’re solidly fucked if you don’t get warm in short order.
3. The medical signs. People who are slipping into hypothermia will be hypertensive (high blood pressure) and tachycardia (fast heart beat) at first. Once they’re deep into hypothermic conditions, these indicators will often reverse. Their blood pressure will drop and their heart will slow. Don’t be fooled. Your friend is in big trouble.
If you’re demonstrating these symptoms, the risk-reward analysis for building a fire might just be changing. I’m assuming you have the means to build a fire here, and were neglecting to build a fire solely as a result of the tactical situation. If you don’t have the capability to make fire, it might be time to raid somebody who does. Just a thought.