Get Warm

Act Fast to Conserve and Generate Body Heat

Maintaining adequate warmth is critical when the weather’s cold and windy. In the mountains, even during the summer, temperatures drop at night. If the weather’s damp or wet, winter-like conditions may quickly prevail.

Failure to conserve and maintain adequate body heat may result in hypothermia, a life-threatening condition.


hypothermia– A physical condition where a person’s body core temperature drops below that required for the body to function normally.

Princeton University’s “Outdoor Action Guide to Hypothermia and Cold Weather Injuries” provides a comprehensive discussion of this topic, including prevention, signs and symptoms, and field treatment.

Please visit this website! Examine this killer physical condition. Get to know it well.

Wind Chill

wind chill– Colder felt temperature on exposed skin due to wind.

Everyone’s experienced wind chill. When the wind blows on a cold day, it feels colder. In fact, the body, when unprotected, loses heat when exposed to the wind faster than normal conditions with no wind. The onset of hypothermia will be faster.

The National Weather Service website has a Wind Chill Chart and a Wind Chill Calculator that illustrates the above. Play around with the calculator and you’ll see the importance of wind chill protection.

“Get Warm” Priority List

  • Use Your Clothing Wisely
  • Utilize Your Shelter
  • Consider a Fire

Review the Following:

Extra Clothing- A Ten Essential Category

Ten Essentials- Extra Clothing
Clothing you should carry for emergencies.

Tactical Notes- Extra Clothing
A discussion why cotton is bad, explains what is good. Your life depends on it.

Use Your Clothing Wisely

Change to dry clothing. Apply clothing layers as needed. Use a stocking cap (remember, a very large percentage of body heat is lost if your head’s uncovered).

Note: If you unwisely chose to wear cotton as a base layer or outer layers, remove it and replace it with wool or synthetic clothing. You did bring wool or synthetic clothing to replace the cotton, didn’t you? Remember, we already talked about this!

Utilize Your Shelter

Your shelter should already be placed so it’s not exposed to the wind. Hunkering down inside a space blanket, sleeping bag (even a tarp or small tent) serves to raise the temperature around your body.

Review the Following:

Fire- A Ten Essential Category

Ten Essentials- Fire
Fire requirements.

Tactical Notes- Fire
A discussion of fire; when, where, and use considerations.

Consider a Fire

A fire is great for warmth, illumination at night, and a means of signaling to rescuers. Fire also gives one a sense of companionship while watching the flames.  Before starting fire, however, be aware of the following:

  • You need to conserve body heat immediately. Putting on warm clothes and securing a shelter is the fastest way to do that.
  • Gathering wood and keeping it in a dry place may be time consuming. Wood or other fuel may be scarce to non-existent, particularly at alpine elevations (above the timberline).
  • A fire may be dangerous and downright reckless (not to mention illegal) in dry seasons. High temperatures, high winds, and surrounding dry vegetation is a recipe for a disastrous, out-of-control wildfire. Prevent Forest Fires!