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Seek first to understand

16,911. This is the total number of deaths, due to exposure in the U.S., between 1999 to 2011. This is an average of 1,301 deaths per year, or 26 persons per state. It is safe to say that the majority of Americans know the difference between cold and hot, and equally, know how to dress according to the temperature they are going to be out in, but perhaps that is not the reason. In excessive cold, there is no doubt, the human body can succumb to it without adequate shelter or clothing. However, did you know that hypothermia begins below 95 degrees? It is true, with temperatures in the HOT category, the deadly affects of hypothermia begin their slow acting work of killing you.

Sure, at the higher temps, you probably not die, but as you're body wears down, due to exhaustion, lack of food or water, or adequate shelter/clothing, the body's ability to provide life sustaining heat dwindles. This eventually causes the body to grow sleepy, which then leads to sitting down to rest, and eventually, falling asleep never to awaken.

In every case, there are common factors at work which make hypothermia possible. In every case, it is due to a lack of preparation (outside of those catastrophic events such as avalanche/shipwreck et cetera). When out in the big pineries, those that succumb to hypothermia do so because they lacked the fundamental understanding of what is expected to survive. The inuit have lived in some of the most hostile and unforgiving country on the continent, and have done so for thousands of years on end. The reason they have eeked out a living and thrived was due to the fact they understood their surroundings and developed their way of life around that. How often we find ourselves living so cavalier - taking for granted the civilized society all around us?

Seek first to understand, then be understood is a great rule of thumb for would be travelers of the big woods in winter. Know what is expected, and prepare for the unexpected.

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