An absolutely fundamental and immediate survival concern (once you have survived the immediate safety crisis that is) , believe it or not, is maintaining your body temperature. Hypothermia or hyperthermia, otherwise known by their more common name…exposure; are the leading causes of death in the bulk of survival situations.
Since this is “preschool”, I am not going to bore you with all the descriptions, symptoms and treatments for exposure. Check out the wikipedia links above for that. Suffice it to say that everything from clothing to shelter has to do with keeping your body’s core temperature at 98.6 degrees.
On the issue of clothes. Clothes are at the top of the list in our survival concerns. Our clothes are necessary for protecting us from the elements and maintaining our body temperature. You should ALWAYS be prepared for the environment you go out in by either wearing or packing the proper clothing.
Clothing systems for both hot and cold environments can be broken down into three components.
- Base Layer: These are the clothing items that go against the skin. They trap air close to the body and should be made of materials that wick moisture away from the body.
- Insulation layer: Added or subtracted as the outside conditions change, insulation layers go between your base layer and your outer garments.
- Environmental Layer: This is your outside shell. The environmental layer protects you from the elements; wind, rain, snow, sun, brush etc. Ideally, your outer garment should be lightweight, loose fitting, wind and water resistant/proof and have the ability to be vented if you begin to sweat too much underneath.
In cold weather you need to try and trap your body heat close to your core by using insulating layers of clothes or air space. This is done by adding or subtracting insulation layers as the temperature dictates. Exercise and food intake will also effect your body temperature .
An acronym to remember for cold weather clothes is COLD.
- C= keep yourself and your clothes CLEAN
- O= avoid OVERHEATING
- L=wear LOOSE clothing in LAYERS
- D=keep DRY
And remember to wear a hat. Your head looses a large percentage of your bodies radiant heat. You will notice an immediate warming when you cover your head in a cold weather environment.
In hot weather your primary concern, clothing wise, is protecting yourself from the sun. Sunburn effects your bodies ability to cool itself. In hot weather your skin is your survival tool because your body depends on sweating to regulate body temperature.
Your clothing goals here are to wear loose layers of clothes that will protect you from solar radiation while providing airflow that will slow the evaporation of sweat for efficient cooling. If your sweat evaporates too quickly you will rapidly dehydrate.
So…while not as exciting as learning how to build a Rube Goldberg style dead-fall trap to hunt wild game..you now at least have a good idea of what it takes to survive in the most common survival crisis situation. Exposure.