Survival Medicine Hour: Cold Weather Issues On The Trail, In The Car, At Home

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Dang, it's cold!

Dang, it’s cold!

It’s January, and bitter cold has already engulfed much of North America, with heavy snowfall and high winds causing all sorts of issues that might be hazardous to your health. Nurse Amy and Dr. Bones (Joe Alton MD and Amy Alton ARNP) go over a myriad of cold weather issues like hypothermia, winter car survival if stranded, and more. .

We pleased to announce that KYAH in the great state of Utah is now carrying our show on land-based radio!

We wish you the best of health in 2018!

Joe and Amy Alton

The Altons

The Altons

For medical kits, individual supplies and our books/dvds, go to

PrepperMed 101: I am So Cold – Recognizing and Treating Hypothermia

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PrepperMed 101: I am So Cold – Recognizing & Treating Hypothermia Most people think about a 65 degree night and they smile. They think about how wonderful a night like that can be. If you begin to feel a chill you head back into your home and get warm. Now, if you are out in …

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Hypothermia: Tips Against the Cold

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Hypothermia presents one of nature’s greatest dangers. Even just among America’s homeless, thousands die from exposure to the freezing elements. Nobody should face the cold unprepared.

By Alex Coyne, a contributing author of SurvivalCache and

Here are some of the facts behind hypothermia, and some more about what you can do to handle it.

#1: Defining hypothermia.

2_hypothermiaHypothermia literally means “below heat”, and it’s what happens when the body’s temperature drops below 35°C. This means that your organs will eventually begin shutting down due to the cold. Once tissue starts freezing, what you’re dealing with is frostbite, the nasty cousin of hypothermia. Its opposite is hyperthermia, or what happens when the body overheats.

#2: What is frostbite?

The symptoms of frostbite include loss of feeling and discoloration of the skin: This can be blue, red or white, so keep in mind that any unnatural discoloration is generally a bad sign which can point to issues in circulation. Yes, permanent damage or the loss of limbs and digits becomes a real danger here: Once affected by frostbite, your priority is to warm up the affected areas gradually though as soon as possible.  Think of frostbite like freezer burn.

#3: Just how cold…?

There are several factors involved with contracting hypothermia: Cold, air and exposure time are just some of them. Here’s a handy chart from the US National Weather Service showing the temperature, wind and time related to both hypothermia and frostbite, just in case you were wondering.

#4: Recognizing the symptoms.

2_frozen_hypothermiaHypothermia is classified in three stages: Mild, moderate and severe. The symptoms of hypothermia start off slow with shivering – the body’s natural way of trying to warm itself up – slight nausea, drowsiness and confusion, but can eventually turn to much more severe versions thereof. Apathy and slurred speech eventually sets in, and inevitably the sufferer will tire out, fall asleep and into a deep coma and die.

#5: Alcohol will not help.

Do you know anyone who has a brandy to warm themselves up, usually on a camping trip? In the event of hypothermia, it turns out that’s one of the most dangerous things you could possibly do. Contrary to popular belief – yes, this is complete BS – alcohol will not warm you up. What alcohol really does is dilate the blood vessels, making you only feel warmer while you’re losing most of the heat through your skin. It does more harm than good, so don’t do it.

Related: Ten Ways to Survive the Winter Cold

#6: Preparing beforehand.

The best medicine is prevention. When you’re preparing for a trip (or stocking up your grab-and-go bags), make sure you pack essentials like warm, insulated gloves. It’s also worth investing in proper thermal wear, which can be expensive, but you’ll surely thank yourself if you’re stuck somewhere in the cold. Also prepare by checking out the weather forecast before heading out: Is there any bad weather in the cards?

#7: You can’t, and shouldn’t, work it off.

3_exercise_winterIt’s another common myth that exercise will get rid of hypothermia entirely, so you can just “exercise it out” or “walk it off” and you’ll be fine. Like most myths, there’s more harm than good to this one as hypothermia puts intense strain on the heart. Suddenly exercising can cause your body to shut down if you are already in an advanced state of hypothermia. The same applies to throwing someone with hypothermia into a hot bath (or, for that matter, someone with a fever into a cold one): The resulting stress on the heart can cause a heart attack.

#8: Warming up gradually.

Due to the stress hypothermia places on the body (and the ice crystals that form in the tissue in the case of frostbite), the key to getting rid of either is to warm the patient up gradually, not quickly. Getting them out of wet, cold clothes and covering them with a warm blanket or clothes is step one, and much less dangerous than the common method that certainly might kill someone.

#9: The enemy of cold.

Know how to make a fire even in a cold or ice-covered climate, as it might be the quickest way to avoid getting hypothermia. (Remember: Cold doesn’t always come in the form of ice, and both icy wind and cold water can induce hypothermia just as quickly.) Many campers carry a flask of hot tea or coffee for keeping the cold away in the mornings, and – when possible – it’s highly recommended.

Check Out: Emergency Foods from Wild Plants

#10: Increasing your tolerance for cold.

4_ice_adaptControlled exposure to the cold will eventually increase the body’s tolerance levels if done over a long period of time. This is true for people like Wim Hof, better known as “The Iceman” and the Guinness World Record holder for the longest time immersed in ice – a total of one hour and fifty-two minutes. (That doesn’t sound like too much until you actually try it.) There’s nothing superhuman about it, though: Wim (and many others like him) insist that their abilities are due to practice and practice alone.

Download Smart Thermometer from the Google Play Store, Fingerprint Thermometer from, Free Digital Temperature from the App Store or The Thermometer App and make sure you know just how cold it is outside.

Have you experienced frostbite or hypothermia while hiking, swimming or camping?  Tell us your story in the comments.

Handling Medical Emergencies

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1_med_bagMedical emergencies go far beyond straightforward fractures, sprains and breaks; would you know what to do in the case of an asthma attack, fever or dehydration? These things can happen to anyone and at any time, and when they do strike you might find yourself far away from emergency medical care. Then what?

By Alex Coyne, a contributing author of SurvivalCache and

Here are some common (and not so common) medical emergencies you should be prepared for and what to do…

#1: An asthma attack.

Chronic asthma sufferers should always have their medication on hand or within reach, especially when they plan on travelling. When they don’t, the first step is to keep the person calm and breathing deeply. Panic only causes the airways to close up further. Caffeinated beverages – coffee and energy drinks – are good in an emergency and can stop an asthma attack in its tracks; they’re always part of the emergency kit for good reason.

#2: Handling a fever.

1_thermometer-temperature-fever-fluA fever is the body’s way of altering its temperature to kill any pathogens in the body. Symptoms include shivering, sweating and the sensation of feeling hot or cold – sometimes both interchangeably. The worst thing you can possibly do with someone who has a fever is to throw them into an ice bath. Yes, it’s one of those things you saw in the movies that can kill someone. A fever puts way too much strain on the heart, and your best bet for cooling down someone with a fever is to keep them hydrated, cool them down slowly with a cold cloth and try medication like paracetamol before seeking medical attention.

#3: Seeing (and stopping) advanced hypothermia.

Hypothermia is what happens when the body’s core temperature drops below 35°C; frostbite and hypothermia go hand in hand. The symptoms of hypothermia starts with shivering, then goes on to worse symptoms like drowsiness and confusion, which eventually leads to coma and death. With hypothermia, do not resort to alcohol or quickly warming the person: Both will do more damage. Remove the person from the cold environment, get them into dry, warm clothes and warm them up slowly.

#5: Dehydration.

1_splashing-splash-aqua-water-67843By the time your body tells you you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated: It pays to remember this fact on a daily basis and when camping or hiking. Make sure you drink plenty of (clean) water. Replace the fluid your body puts out (through sweat, for example) and then some more. Also pack drinks specifically for treating dehydration, which contain much-needed salts and electrolytes. In an emergency, a mixture of water, sugar and salt replaces the most necessary minerals. Remember that sugar, salt and alcohol all have dehydrating effects on the body.

Keep in mind that coconut water, intravenously, will also replace electrolytes.

#6: How to stop bleeding.

Maybe it’s a small cut, or maybe the emergency is a little more severe – and spurting blood. You’ll encounter both in your lifetime, and it’s vital that you know how to handle it. For severe bleeding, apply firm pressure with a compress. Remember to wear gloves, and do not use a tourniquet. This cuts off blood circulation and will lead to tissue damage pretty quickly. For slight bleeding, both salt and sugar have antibacterial  properties and will help the blood to clot sooner.

#7: Slowing an infection.

The biggest danger with most wounds, even small ones, is often not the wound itself but the resulting infection that can occur. When an injury occurs, the first priority after stopping the bleeding should be cleaning the wound with sterilized water or alcohol – trace amounts of dirt can be enough to cause a serious infection and should be removed. Sugar and salt, as mentioned above, have fantastic antibacterial properties. Yes, this will hurt, but what would you rather have in this situation?

If severe infection has already set in and medical help is not available for a long time (say, if you are stranded on a boat in the middle of the ocean), learn to look upon maggots as a good sign: They clean dead and infected skin out of the wounds, and should be allowed to do their thing before being removed – carefully, of course.

#8: Demystifying fainting spells.

The technical term for fainting, if you’ve ever wondered, is syncope. It can happen for a variety of reasons, including (but not limited to) blood pressure or lack of oxygen to the brain. Fainting at the site of blood we now know is a neurological condition. It’s never anything less than a medical emergency, and should always be treated with care – and examined on a case-by-case basis. First, check if the person is breathing and their heart is beating the way it should. Make sure that their airways are not obstructed and that they are away from danger. Then, try to revive them. Fluids – sugar water or fruit juice – should be given immediately.

#9: Spotting a stroke.

The cause of most strokes are a lack of blood supply to the brain.

1_stroke_blurry_lights-night-unsharp-bluredThe symptoms of a stroke are varied and can include the feeling of pins and needles, fatigue, a loss of balance, paralysis – especially on one side of the body, double vision and difficulty speaking or slurred speech. Look for signs of confusion, and ask the patient to lift their arms above their head or touch their tongue to the roof of their mouth: If they can’t, you might be dealing with the symptoms of a stroke.

Like most other emergencies, keep the patient calm and stay calm yourself. Check their responses by asking some simple questions and seeing how they respond to physical stimuli. (Someone who has just had a stroke might be unconscious. In this case, resort to checking eyelid response.) If they are unconscious, you want to check their airways and heart rate and administer CPR before seeking help.

It is not recommended to give someone having a stroke something to eat or drink.

Share your medical emergency tips or stories with our readers in the comments.

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Surviving A Fall Through The Ice

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Surviving A Fall Through Ice If you were to fall through ice into freezing water that is over your head, do you know what to do? What if there is a current? Even if there’s people with you, they may not be able to assist you without falling in, too. Do you know how to …

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Survival Medicine Hour: Hypothermia Pt. 3, Frostbite, Winter Hazards

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Frostbite with gangrene

The Survival Medicine Hour with Joe Alton, MD, aka Dr. Bones and Amy Alton, ARNP, aka Nurse Amy discusses altitude sickness, winter car survival, falling through the ice or into very cold water and more. Car Survival equipment should include wool blankets, instant hand warmers, flashlights and extra batteries (fresh), small tool with blade, screwdrivers, pliers etc, foldable shovel, sand or rock salt, flares and reflective large triangles, tow chain or tough rope, jumper cables, water and food, a first aid kit (Doom and Bloom makes a grab and go bag), tarp, noisemaker and more.


Winter car survival

To increase your chances of survival in cold water you should wear a life jacket whenever you are on a boat. It enables you to stay alive longer by keeping you afloat without burning too much energy. A built-in whistle is a great item to have on the life jacket also. Keep your clothes on while you are still in the water. Button or zip up to retain some body heat. The layer of water between your clothing and your body is slightly warmer and will help insulate you from the cold.


To listen in, click the link below:


Wishing you all the best in good times or bad,


Joe and Amy Alton

joe and amy radio

Fill those holes in your medical preparedness with Nurse Amy’s kit and individual supplies at!



Car Survival in Winter

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It’s predicted to be another harsh winter and, for most in the U.S., this means trouble if someone gets stuck out on the road during a blizzard or other extreme conditions. Hypothermia (the effects on the body from exposure to cold) may occur on the wilderness trail, but also right in the driver’s seat of the family car. It’s important to have a plan in case you are stranded in your vehicle.


Your Car


Winter conditions don’t just affect people, they affect cars as well. Cold affects rubber and metal; it even decreases the battery’s efficiency. Tires become stiff and flat for the first few hundred yards. Your oil and other lubricants become thicker at cold temperatures. This makes the engine work harder.


Therefore, vehicles that will be doing duty in extreme cold should be “winterized”. This involves switching to a lighter viscosity oil, changing to snow tires, and choosing the right (anti-freeze) ratio of coolant to water. Gas tanks should never be less than half full.


Your Life 


You’re not a bear, so you can’t hibernate through the cold weather; you’ll have to live in it, so take measures to avoid becoming a victim of it. Many deaths from exposure are avoidable if simple precautions are taken.


The first question you should ask before you get in the car in cold weather is: What’s the forecast? Is it possible that you’re driving straight into trouble? Checking the weather beforehand is a lot better than finding out about it on the road.


The second question should be: “Is this trip necessary?” If the answer is “no”, you should stay home. For most people that work, however, the answer is “yes”. If you have no choice but to hit the road during a winter storm, drive as if your life depends on it (because it does). Brush ice and snow off windshields, side mirrors, or anywhere your view might be blocked. Don’t speed, tailgate, or weave in and out of traffic. Make turns slowly and deliberately; avoid quick stops and starts.


Notify someone of your travel plans before you head out, especially if you’re in rural areas. Take your cell phone with you but save it for emergencies. Your focus has to be on the road, not on texts from your friends.




If you live in an area that routinely has very cold winters, you may not be able to avoid being stranded in your car one day. Your level of preparedness will improve your chances of staying healthy and getting back home. So what should your plan of action be?


  1. Stay calm and don’t leave the car. It’s warmer there than outside and you have protection from the wind. Having adequate shelter is one of the keys to success, whether it’s in the wilderness or on a snow-covered highway.
  2. Ventilation is preferable to asphyxiation. Crack a window on the side away from the wind for some fresh air. People talk about water and food being necessary for survival but, first, you’ll need air to breathe. Wet snow can block up your exhaust system, which causes carbon monoxide to enter the passenger compartment. Colorless and odorless, it’s a deadly gas that kills in enclosed spaces without ventilation. Clearing the exhaust pipe of snow and running the engine only ten minutes or so an hour will help prevent monoxide poisoning.
  3. Group Hug. If you’re in a group, huddle together as best you can to create a warm pocket in the car.
  4. Keep Moving. Rub your hands, put them in your armpits, or otherwise keep moving to make your muscles produce heat.
  5. Don’t overexert yourself. If your car is stuck in the snow, you’ll want to dig yourself out. A lot of sweat, however, will cause clothing to become wet. Wet clothing loses its value as insulation and leads to hypothermia.
  6. Let others know you’re there. If you have flares, use them. Flashing emergency lights on your vehicle will drain battery power, so use them only if you think someone might see them.

The Winter Car Kit 


If you’re going to travel in very cold conditions, there are a certain number of items that you should keep in your vehicle. This is what an effective winter survival car kit contains:


  • Wool Blankets. Wool can stay warm even when wet.
  • Spare sets of dry clothes, including socks, hats, and mittens.
  • Hard warmers or other instant heat packs (activated, usually, by shaking, they’ll last for hours)
  • Matches, lighters and/or firestarters in case you need to manufacture heat.
  • Candles, flashlights (keep batteries in backwards until you need them).
  • Small multi-tool with blade, screwdrivers, pliers, etc.
  • Larger combination tool like a foldable shovel (acts as a shovel but also an axe, saw, etc.)
  • Sand or rock salt in plastic container (to give traction where needed.)
  • Tow chain or rope.
  • Flares.
  • Jumper cables.
  • Water, Food (energy bars, MREs, dehydrated soups, candies).
  • Baby wipes for hygiene purposes.
  • A first aid kit.
  • Medications as needed.
  • Tarp and duct tape (brightly colored ones will be more visible and aid rescue.)
  • Metal cup, thermos, heat source (to melt snow, make soup, etc.)
  • Noisemaker (whistle)
  • Cell phone and charger

The items above will give you a head start in keeping safe and sound even if stranded. With a plan of action, a few supplies, and a little luck, you’ll survive even in the worst blizzard.


Joe Alton MD


Dang, It’s Cold! Treating and Preventing Hypothermia

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hypothermia (and bad judgment)

This winter has already seen deadly cold snaps where people have found themselves at the mercy of the elements. Whether it’s on a wilderness hike or stranded in a car on a snow-covered highway, the physical effects of exposure to cold (also called “hypothermia”) can be life-threatening.


Hypothermia is a condition in which body core temperature drops below the temperature necessary for normal body function and metabolism. Normally, the body core is between 97.5-99.5 degrees Fahrenheit (36.0-37.5 degrees Celsius). Cold-related illness occurs once the core temperature dips below 95 degrees (35 degrees Celsius).


When it is exposed to cold, the body kicks into action to produce heat. Muscles shiver to produce heat, and this will be the first symptom you’re likely to see. As hypothermia worsens, more symptoms will become apparent if the patient is not warmed.


Aside from shivering, the most noticeable symptoms of hypothermia will be related to mental status. The person may appear confused, uncoordinated, and lethargic. As the condition worsens, speech may become slurred; the patient will appear apathetic, uninterested in helping themselves, and may lose consciousness. These effects occur due to the effect of cooling temperatures on the brain: The colder the body core gets, the slower the brain works. Brain function is supposed to cease at about 68 degrees Fahrenheit, although there have been exceptional cases where people (usually children) survived even lower temperatures.


Prevention of Hypothermia


An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To prevent hypothermia, you must anticipate the climate that you will be traveling through; include windy and wet weather into your calculations. Condition yourself physically to be fit for the challenge. Travel with a partner if at all possible, and have more than enough food and water available for the entire trip.


It may be useful to remember the simple acronym C.O.L.D.  This stands for:  Cover, Overexertion, Layering, and Dry.


Cover. Your head has a significant surface area, so prevent heat loss by wearing a hat. Instead of using gloves to cover your hands, use mittens. Mittens are more helpful than gloves because they keep your fingers in contact with one another, conserving heat.


Overexertion. Avoid activities that cause you to sweat a lot. Cold weather causes you to lose body heat quickly; wet, sweaty clothing accelerates the process. Rest when necessary; use those rest periods to self-assess for cold-related changes. Pay careful attention to the status of the elderly and the very young. Diabetics are also at high risk.


Layering. Loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in layers trap pockets of warm air and do the best job of insulating you against the cold. Use tightly woven, water-repellent material for wind protection. Wool or silk inner layers hold body heat better than cotton does. Some synthetic materials, like Gore-Tex, work well also. Especially cover the head, neck, hands and feet.


Dry. Keep as dry as you can. Get out of wet clothing as soon as possible. It’s very easy for snow to get into gloves and boots, so pay particular attention to your hands and feet.

st. bernard

Pet the Dog, Skip the Booze

One cold-weather issue that most people don’t take into account is the use of alcohol. Alcohol may give you a “warm” feeling, but it actually causes your blood vessels to expand; this results in more rapid heat loss from the surface of your body.


Alcohol and recreational drugs also cause impaired judgment. Those under the influence might choose clothing that might not protect them in cold weather.


Treating  Hypothermia


If you encounter a person who is unconscious, confused, or lethargic in cold weather, assume they are hypothermic until proven otherwise. Immediate action must be taken to reverse the ill effects of hypothermia. Important measures to take are:


Get the person out of the cold. Move them into a warm, dry area as soon as possible. If you’re unable to move the person out of the cold, be sure to place a barrier between them, the wind, and the cold ground.


Monitor breathing. A person with severe hypothermia may be unconscious. Verify that they are breathing and check for a pulse. Begin CPR if necessary.


Take off wet clothing. If the person is wearing wet clothing, remove gently. Cover the victim with layers of dry blankets, including the head, but leave the face clear.


Share body heat. To warm the person’s body, remove your clothing and lie next to the person, making skin-to-skin contact. Then cover both of your bodies with blankets. Some people may cringe at this controversial notion, but it’s important to remember that you are trying to save a life. Gentle massage or rubbing may be helpful. Avoid being too vigorous.


Give warm oral fluids if awake and alert. If, and only if, the affected person is alert and able to swallow, provide a warm, nonalcoholic, non-caffeinated beverage to help warm the body. Coffee’s out, but how about some warm apple cider?


Use warm, dry compresses. Use a first-aid warm compress (a fluid-filled bag that warms up when squeezed), or a makeshift compress of warm, not hot, water in a plastic bottle. Apply to the neck, armpit, and groin. Due to major blood vessels that run close to the skin in these areas, heat will more efficiently travel to the body core.


Avoid applying direct heat. Don’t use hot water, a heating pad or a heating lamp directly on the victim. The extreme heat can damage the skin, cause strain on the heart, or even lead to cardiac arrest.


Joe Alton, MDAuthorJoe

Find out more about cold-related injuries in our Third Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook, now at 700 pages! Also, fill those holes in your medical supplies at Nurse Amy’s store at You’ll be glad you did.

Survival Medicine Hour: Hypothermia, Nightclub Terror

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It’s January, and a cold blast from the North is hitting parts of the Deep South. Hypothermia is a big issue for those not prepared for cold weather, and a number of people die every year from being unready to deal with Nature’s challenges. Find out about hypothermia, how the body loses heat, and some strategies for prevention this winter.


Also, the Turkish nightclub shooting almost exactly duplicates the blueprint established by last year’s Orlando Nightclub shootings. Along with vehicular terror, Dr. Bones makes the argument that this strategy is going to be repeated again and again, and tells you what you have to do to survive such events.


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Follow us on twitter @preppershow

Follow our Youtube Channel at DrBones NurseAmy

Follow us at Facebook at DoomandBloom or join our Survival Medicine group at Survival Medicine DrBones NurseAmy


All the best for a happy and healthy 2017!


Joe and Amy Alton



How to Survive Hypothermia

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How to Survive Hypothermia Winter storms pose a potential danger to everyone in their path.  Whether you’re an avid hiker and camper like I am, work outdoors, or are otherwise caught in a winter storm, hypothermia is a very real possibility. has a survival guide designed to help us recognize the signs of hypothermia …

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First Aid and Self Aid!

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First Aid and Self Aid!
Josh “7P’s of Survival

First AidLast week we talked about building a kit for wilderness first aid or self aid and also what is needed for treatment of a gun shot wound or massive trauma. We then talked a good bit about medicinal herbs and plants for that first aid kit and I detailed those items I now carry. This week we are moving on to how the first aid kit we built, in addition to your 10 C’s Kit, can be utilized to effect first aid and self aid.

What Will We Cover This Week:

  • Bleeding– We will start the night talking about trauma, focusing on bleeding control initially. We will explore the basics for bleeding control and move into which plants can also help stop bleeding.
  • Mechanical Injury– Next we will move to mechanical injuries and how you can stablixe those injuries with the kit you carry. We will explore cutting tools, sheaths, cordage, cotton, sticks, air matresses, sleeping pads, clothing and much more.
  • Bites/Stings/Skin Ailments– We will then shift to the treatment of bites and stings off all the creapy crawlies and also those ailmnets that attack your skin such as poison ivy.
  • Blisters– Next we turn to the prevention and treatment of the most common ailment in the woods and how your existing kit can help make you more comfortable.
  • Hypothermia/Shock/Dehydration– The three killers will bring us near the end of the show as we talk about how to recognize these issues and what you can do to treat these critical issues.

Visit 7P’s Survival Blog HERE! 
Join us for The 7P’s of Survival “LIVE SHOW” every Tuesday 9:00/Et 8:00Ct 6:00/Pt Go To Listen and Chat

Listen to this broadcast or download “First Aid and Self Aid” in player below!

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Archived shows of 7P’s of Survival at bottom of THIS PAGE!

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Survival Medicine Hour: Blizzard, Top Natural Remedies, More

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26 inches of snow and high winds cost 19 people their lives this weekend on the East Coast. Would you know how to keep warm in a blizzard? Dr. Joe Alton discusses the news and basic strategies that could save your life. Also, What will you do when the pharmaceuticals run out in a survival setting? Do you know the basics of natural remedies like essential oils and herbal medicine? Joe Alton, MD, and Amy Alton, ARNP, discuss what you need to know about the medicinal benefits of various natural substances.

To listen in, click below:


Joe Alton, MD


Learn about how to use all the tools in the medical woodshed with the 3-category Amazon bestseller “The Survival Medicine Hour“, with over 270 5-star reviews!

Hypothermia and What you Need to Know to Stay Alive

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I live in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and every year people get lost and die in the winter.  Normally they are not properly equipped and die from hypothermia.  They drive to the snow in their nice warm car and go out to play on a sunny day, when it seems to be deceptively warm.  They end up straying of the trails and night sneaks up on them.  Without warm clothing, a way to start a fire, food or water, and no survival training, they succumb to hypothermia.

The human body temperature is usually maintained at a constant level of 97.7–99.5 °F.  If a person is exposed to cold, and their internal mechanisms cannot replenish the heat that is being lost, the body’s core temperature falls and you are suffering from hypothermia.

Here is a chart that shows how lose of core temperature affect yso

Here is a chart that shows how loss of core temperature affect you

Hypothermia can range from mild to severe.  Mild hypothermia can be treated with warm drinks, warm clothing and getting warm.  Moderate hypothermia is harder to treat.  Recommended treatments include heating blankets and warmed intravenous fluids.  In severe hypothermia, medical intervention is normally required to save the person’s life.

Hypothermia causes approximately 1500 deaths a year in the United States.   Body heat is primarily generated in your muscle tissue, while it is lost through the skin (90%) and lungs (10%).  Heat production may be increased 2 to 4 fold through muscle contractions.

A few years ago, a friend and some companions were caught in a severe blizzard in the High Sierra’s.  They were forced to spend the night in a lean-to on a ledge.  Now they were well dressed and had good equipment, but they were still in danger of hypothermia.

Because they could not get up and move around, they used isometric exercises to help raise their body temperature.  An isometric exercise is a form of exercise involving the static contraction of a muscle without any visible movement in the angle of the joint.  When you create the tension in your muscles, it creates body heat.  Tighten your muscles and hold them tight for a short period of time, maybe 30 seconds. The bigger the muscles the more heat.  Be careful not to generate any type of a sweat.  My friend, who taught for the US Marine Corp Cold Weather School at Pickle Meadows, said that this helped them stay warmer throughout the night.

Appropriate clothing helps to prevent hypothermia. Synthetic and wool fabrics are superior to cotton as they provide better insulation when wet and dry. Some synthetic fabrics, such as polypropylene and polyester, are used in clothing that is designed to wick perspiration away from the body.  Examples would be moisture-wicking undergarments.  Clothing should be loose fitting, as tight clothing reduces the circulation of warm blood. See my previous post Hypothermia, How to Dress to Avoid It.

I want to make one correction to my previous post.  In it I mentioned that you could lose up to 50% of your body heat from your head and neck.  I have since found out that this is incorrect.  Covering the head is effective, but no more effective than covering any other part of the body.

Remember that wet rainy weather with temperatures above freezing in the 40 and 50s can be just a dangerous as colder temperatures.

Stay well dressed and warm and carry survival gear.


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Cold Weather Top Five Risks

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Top Five Cold Weather Risks to Your Heath?
Cat Ellis “Herbal Prepper Live

Cold Weather snowy-drivewayAs the temperatures drop lower and lower, the risk of five types of cold weather injuries shoots up. Do you know what they are? Even more important, do you have the skills to respond to such an injury? In this episode of Herbal Prepper Live, herbalist and prepper, Cat Ellis discusses time-tested, essential first aid skills, as well as herbal medicine specific to wintertime injuries.

Depending on your age and any pre-existing conditions, you may be more at risk for certain cold weather-associated risks than others. What are the top five cold weather risks to your health? Here’s the list:
Cold Weather1. Chilblains
2. Trenchfoot (not just for trenches!)
3. Frost Nip/Frost Bite
4. Hypothermia
5. Heart Attack

Cold Weather THIS_IS_TRENCH_FOOT.In this episode, Cat will cover each or these risks, how to recognize them, pre-eisting conditions that complicate these top five cold weather risks, as well as how to prevent them from happening in the first place. Most importantly, Cat will detail what to do, and what not to do, if if help is not on the way.

Why do you need to know this? Do you live someplace that snows in the winter? Is your homestead located in a remote, rural town without quick access to a hospital? What if civil unrest made going to the hospital an impossibility? While each of these five cold-weather risks are cause to seek a doctor’s help, what would you do if that just wasn’t an option?

11-29-15 Prepper's Natural MedicineWhen most people think about a cold weather emergency kit, they think of blankets, chemical hand warmers, wool socks, and perhaps a folding shovel to go in the car in case you get stuck. It’s time to update your winter emergency kit to include caring for cold weather injuries. Hopefully, you will never need be faced with such an emergency. But if you are, this episode will teach you what supplies you need to have on hand and how to use them safely.
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3 Critical Survival Skills in the Winter

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3 Critical Survival Skills in the Winter

According to the American Red Cross, dozens of Americans die each year from cold exposure in the winter. Other deaths can be contributed to frostbite, hypothermia and the damage done to the liver, kidneys and pancreas that these conditions cause. Fires and carbon monoxide from improper attempts at heating add even more lives to the toll. In short, it’s important for you to understand how to survive in winter weather. Here are three crucial skills you should know and practice.


Understand How to Avoid Hypothermia

Hypothermia occurs when your body cannot maintain its heat and suffers damage. If your temperature goes too low, organ damage and death can occur. Understanding how to properly maintain your body heat and avoid heat loss are crucial skills for surviving severe weather. Some factors to consider include:


  • Dress yourself properly. You want to wear layers that trap body heat and allow your perspiration to wick away from your skin. Avoid cotton, as it is a poor insulator and holds moisture. Select man-made materials like polyester or natural materials like leather, fur or wool. Pay special attention to your extremities, as your head, hands and feet are usually the first areas affected by the cold.
  • Learn to notice when you’re sweating. If at all possible, you don’t want to sweat. The perspiration will moisten your clothes and sap body heat. Pace yourself while working outside to avoid sweating as much as possible.
  • Maintain your body from the inside out. Dehydration and poor nutrition both make you more susceptible to hypothermia. Drink plenty of water and follow a balanced, healthy diet. Definitely avoid alcohol and caffeine, as these will both dehydrate you further.


Be Able to Identify Hypothermia

You also need to understand the signs of hypothermia. In the beginning, you’ll note shivering and some mental confusion. As your condition worsens, the shivering will become more violent and eventually stop. You will find it impossible to focus on a task or think clearly. Your breathing will become shallow and your pulse will weaken. When the hypothermia progresses to the severe state, you will lose consciousness and be unable to help yourself at all.

Recognizing the early warning signs will help you make good choices and take appropriate actions. If you’re shivering and feeling a bit fuzzy-headed, march in place out of the wind, eat some of your survival emergency food and drink water. If you’re working outside and are sweating a little, you may want to remove a layer or two to keep your temperature stable. Understanding your body and its cues are essential to surviving foul winter weather.


How to Build a Warm Shelter

If you reside in an area where coniferous trees are plentiful, a pile of branches and a tarp can make a cozy lean-to. If you live in a more inhospitable area that gets a lot of snow, you may need to know how to make a properly ventilated snow cave. While tents are great, you should know how to build and heat a natural shelter using minimal tools. Carefully research the options for the area in which you live and practice these skills until you are comfortable building a shelter and heating it. In milder climates, body heat may be enough. In colder areas, learn how to build a fire with found materials. These skills can save your life.

Surviving winter weather is largely a matter of staying warm, dry and protected from the elements. For these reasons, learning how to dress properly and listen to your body’s cues are imperative. Learning to build a warm shelter is also important, as you may not always be able to move constantly to maintain your body temperature.




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No Boat, No Life Preserver: How to Stay Alive in Open Waters

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ocean wave wikimedia

When most of us imagine the possibility of being lost at sea, we typically assume that we’ll be stuck on a flimsy life raft in the middle of the ocean. While that scenario is certainly no picnic, it pales in comparison to the thought of surviving in open water without a lifeboat, or a life preserver. This sort of thing happens more often than you might think, and it usually doesn’t involve some dramatic calamity to the ship itself. After all, if the ship was sinking then somebody probably would have had the foresight to grab a life raft.

In most cases, this scenario involves somebody who was unfortunate enough to fall overboard. Take the case of Sean McGovern and Mellisa Morris, who both managed to fall off of their 30ft boat while sailing near Key Largo (they never told the news how this happened, but I like to imagine that it’s an incredibly embarrassing story involving alcohol). They managed to tread water for 16 hours, from 6pm to 8am, until they were discovered by a police officer and firefighter who happened to be fishing off the coast of Miami.

And then there’s the case of 50-year-old surfer Brett Archibald, who fell off of a tour boat in Indonesia. After getting seasick he decided to visit the side of the boat, where he briefly passed out and fell overboard. By the time his fellow passengers noticed he was missing, it was too late. Fortunately he was rescued after treading water for an astonishing 27 hours, while being pecked by seagulls and stung by jellyfish. He claims that he nearly drowned on 8 separate occasions during the ordeal.

What these cases prove is that even if you have no safety or survival equipment with you, it is possible to stay alive in open waters for a very long time. Most people would balk at the idea of treading water for more than a few hours (which is well before most rescue teams would ever find you), but it’s clearly possible. Here’s a few things you need to know if you want to survive this situation.

Dealing With Hypothermia

The first problem that you’re going to run into, and arguably the most dangerous, is hypothermia. In fact, there may be nothing you can do about it. The only thing that’s keeping you from freezing to death right now is the fact that air is an excellent insulator. Water is not. Even at a temperature of 60 degrees, you’ll likely leave your mortal coil in a few hours.

If you’re fortunate enough to fall into water that is above 60 degrees, you have a fighting chance, but you still have to conserve your body heat. The first mistake most people would probably make, is trying to stay warm by swimming. You may feel a little warmer, but you’re actually losing more body heat than you’re generating. So unless you’re very close to shore or to an immobilized boat, don’t bother with swimming your way out of this situation.

What to do With Your Clothes

Your best chance of survival probably lies in treading water until someone can find you. Since you’re going to be kicking for a long time, the first thing you’ll need to do is remove your shoes. Tie the laces together, hang the shoes over your shoulders, and keep them under the water where they won’t weigh as much.

Before you start treading water though, you should at least attempt to create a flotation device of some kind. If you happen to be wearing pants, this won’t be a problem. You can simply remove them and tie knots in the pant legs. Swoop the pants through the air and dunk them into the water. You’ve now trapped a pocket of air that can keep you afloat. This is great idea if the water is cold, because now you can curl up into a ball without sinking, which will help you conserve body heat.

Treading Water

If for whatever reason this can’t be done, or if you have a good reason not to (we’ll get to that in a moment) you’ll have to start treading water. The most important thing you need to do is pace yourself. Slow down, and use the least amount of effort to stay afloat. That sounds obvious, but since most people have never bothered to see how long they can tread water for, they use a bit more energy than they need to.

There are several different methods of treading water, so it’d be a good idea to switch between them, or at the very least, rotate between using your arms to stay afloat, and your legs. By moving from one technique to the next, you can prevent different muscle groups from becoming too tired. When all else fails, you can always utilize the ‘dead man’s float.’

Aquatic Predators

And finally, you need to know what to do to avoid the dangerous creatures that live in the ocean. This is where you have a few choices to make depending on your personal needs and circumstances. For instance, if you are too exhausted to tread water, crafting the aforementioned flotation device is obviously a good idea. However, it’s better to be clothed when you’re dealing animals that may want to hurt you.

Sharks for instance, are more likely to target people who are poorly clothed. Though shark attacks are rare, that doesn’t mean that they won’t bump into you from time to time to investigate your potential as a future snack. Most sharks have an incredibly tough hide that can easily cut human skin, so if you’re stranded in an area that is a known hotspot for shark activity, it’s better to keep your clothes on.

You also might want to keep your shoes on in this situation, since trying to fight off a shark with your fists is going to result in severe injuries, due to their coarse skin (and of course, that blood will attract more sharks). If it’s possible, you should keep your shoes on and fight them with your legs, not your bare hands. And keep in mind that sharks are attracted to shiny objects, human waste, and loud sounds (another good reason to quietly tread water instead of trying to swim to a coastline that you’ll never reach). Your clothing will also provide decent protection against jelly fish, which are a common occurrence on the ocean’s surface.


When taken together, it probably sounds like there’s a bit of contradictory advice in this article. Unfortunately, it can’t be helped. There are a lot of factors at play here, and each situation is going to be a little different. You won’t really know what the best course of action is unless you find yourself in this situation. And in either case, surviving in open water is a bit of a crapshoot. I can’t lie about that, or paint a rosy picture.

There is no single thing you can do to significantly better your odds of surviving. There are only little things you can do to slightly improve your odds, and luck probably plays a bigger role in this survival scenario than it does in others. But real survivors don’t play by the odds, and they don’t give up when their chances are slim. They do everything they can to stack the deck in their favor, even when it amounts to very little. You’d be wise to remember that fact, regardless of what dangers you encounter in the future.

Joshua Krause was born and raised in the Bay Area. He is a writer and researcher focused on principles of self-sufficiency and liberty at Ready Nutrition. You can follow Joshua’s work at our Facebook page or on his personal Twitter.

Joshua’s website is Strange Danger

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

#AskPaulKirtley Episode 13: Boots, EDC Kit, Bow-Drill Positions, Tracking, Bushcraft During Hunting Season, Powerless Refrigeration

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In this episode of #AskPaulKirtley I answer questions about boots, EDC kit, preparing your equipment for outings, getting started with animal tracking, bushcraft during the hunting season, alternative bow-drill positions and alternatives to refrigeration while camping. What Is #AskPaulKirtley? #AskPaulKirtley is my Q&A video and podcast series that aims to answer your questions about bushcraft, […]

This first appeared on Paul Kirtley’s Blog. If you like my content, CLICK HERE to get 20 free videos today.

Winter Bug Out! When Hell Freezes Over!

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I was editing some photos for the site today and decided to do a article about bugging out in winter and how winter time can literally become a frozen nightmare. Winter  Wonderland Gone Bad Imagine a disaster or military occupation occurring during winter time. History has shown even for modern military troops winter can become very … Continue reading Winter Bug Out! When Hell Freezes Over!