November 18, 2010 by Bob Livingston
Winter is just around the corner, and that should be a reminder to all that staying warm in an emergency situation is a key to survival.
People stay warm by generating and retaining heat and/or gaining it from an outside source. Heat is lost through radiation, conduction, convection and evaporation.
Proper clothing is essential to minimizing the effects of heat loss. Most thick outer garments, such as heavy coats or layers of lighter-weight clothing, minimize radiation loss. Radiant barriers constructed of shiny material and sandwiched with nonconductive layers will reflect body heat inward.
Conduction can be prevented by separating two extremes — the cold air outside from the warm air near your body — with an insulative layer. Most coats, natural and synthetic, offer resistance to conduction through air pockets in the insulation.
Convection transfers heat via air currents. Convection is experienced when one opens his jacket, allowing the heated air from the body to escape through the opening.
Heat loss also occurs when water evaporates. Our bodies continually give off moisture in the form of perspiration. If our clothes become damp with perspiration or from another source, evaporation quickly removes heat from our bodies.
In an emergency situation, try not to work so hard your clothes become wet with perspiration. Remove layers and work more slowly.
If it’s raining, avoid the chore that would put you in the rain, if possible, or don a raincoat or poncho and do all you can to avoid getting wet.
Finally, starting a fire can help both physically and emotionally. Keep some strike-anywhere matches in a waterproof container, or be sure you have some other fire starter handy. Good choices are butane lighters, flint and steel, 9-volt battery and steel wool or a magnesium fire starter.
It’s also a good idea to have some type of tinder in a waterproof container. Cotton impregnated with petroleum jelly and kept in a 35-mm film canister is a great tool.
Source: Emergency Essentials’ Tips For Preparedness, edited by Larry Barkdull.