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Prevent from cold: 13 Ways to Stop a Cold & Avoid Getting Sick

13 Ways to Stop a Cold & Avoid Getting Sick

After several years of avoiding illnesses, respiratory viruses are back in a big way. Cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are through the roof, along with high levels of cases of the flu. COVID-19 cases are increasing, too. Also in the mix? The common cold. So learning how to stop a cold before it starts is essential in staying healthy during cold and flu season.

When a cold takes over your body, it can seem like you’re at the mercy of the virus when it comes to how long it will last. “The common cold is a viral infection of your throat and nose, also known as your upper respiratory tract. Many types of viruses can cause the common cold, but the most common culprit is rhinovirus,” says Adiba Khan, M.D., a family physician at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital.

A runny nose, sore throat, cough, congestion, mild body aches and headaches, sneezing, and low-grade fever can leave you feeling exhausted before your symptoms start to clear up. Not to mention, a cold can feel a lot like COVID-19.

But a true cold is typically harmless, explains Deborah S. Clements, M.D., a family physician at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital. It just might make you feel crummy while you’re living through it.

The best thing you can do to feel healthy during the colder months? Stop a cold from taking over your body in the first place. In fact, there are a bevy of ways you can prevent colds and shorten their length. Here’s exactly what you can do fight them off all season long.

1. Crank up the humidifier.

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      Low humidity dries out your nasal passages, making it harder to trap and eliminate the micro-bugs that settle in your sinuses, eventually leading to a cold. The fix? Invest in a humidifier and keep it running when the air starts to feel dry.

      “A humidifier may help to keep the mucous membranes moist. Dry mucous membranes in the nose inhibit your body’s ability to trap germs as they enter your system,” says Amber Tully, M.D., a family medicine physician at the Cleveland Clinic.

      But make sure you keep your humidifier clean, as the warm moist environment can become a breeding ground for mold (which can also cause cold-like symptoms if you’re allergic to it).

      2. Load up on vitamin D.

      Research shows that people who don’t get enough vitamin D are much more likely to suffer from an upper respiratory infection—causing a cough, scratchy throat, or stuffy nose—than those who load up on the sunshine vitamin, potentially because your cells depend on D to activate their immune responses. “Some studies have shown that supplementing with 400 international units of vitamin D per day may prevent respiratory infections,” says Dr. Khan.

      Currently, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggest that most adults aim for at least 600 IUs per day, but some organizations recommend much more than that. Getting enough vitamin D through your diet alone is tough (you can find it in foods like salmon, beef, egg yolks, fortified milk and orange juice, cheese, and mushrooms), so if you suspect you’re low, talk to your doctor about finding a supplement that works for you and your needs.

      3. Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth.

      Even if you don’t notice it, you likely touch your face a lot. In fact, one small 2008 study found that the participants touched their faces an average 16 times per hour. That’s a major no-no during cold and flu season: When you come in contact with a virus—through another person or an infected surface—it can enter your system if your hands aren’t properly cleaned, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Viruses also spread by skin-to-skin contact, such as a handshake,” says Dr. Clements.

      So, maintain a hands-off policy. “This prevents germs on your hands being transferred into your mucous membrane (nose and mouth) and getting you sick,” says Dr. Tully.

      4. Wash your hands effectively and often.

      While you’re at it, make sure you’re washing your hands the right way. Use soap and scrub for at least 20 seconds (get between your fingers and underneath your nails!), says the CDC. Opt for hand sanitizer (like these travel-size bottles from Purell) if you’re in a pinch.

      “If the virus is deposited on a surface or inanimate surface, you touch it, and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, you could infect yourself that way,” says Thomas Russo, M.D., professor and chief of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo in New York. “If you touch a contaminated surface, good hand hygiene will help you avoid infection.

      5. Disinfect your phone.

      Think of all the places you put your phone down during the day: the kitchen counter, a bathroom stall, your restaurant table—talk about a germ-fest.

      In fact, a 2012 University of Arizona study found that cell phones may carry 10 times the amount of bacteria than toilet seats.

      To disinfect your devices, Apple suggests using a Lysol or Clorox disinfecting wipe. Just be sure to shut down your phone, squeeze out any excess liquid (you don’t want a pool of the stuff sitting on your screen), and dry it off with a soft lint-free cloth. Keep in mind that while bleach is great for banishing viruses, products containing the substance might damage your phone. If you have a hard time finding cleaning wipes near you, follow this guide on how to clean your phone using rubbing alcohol.

      6. Find some time to relax.

      Feeling on edge? If you’re already feeling run-down, it can actually pave the way for a cold, since stress causes your body to pump out excess cortisol, a hormone that can weaken your immune system’s ability to fight infection, says Dr. Tully,

      So make winding down a priority: Take up yoga, try meditation, go for a daily stroll through nature, or prioritize some time after work to make dinner with your family—anything that helps you shake off a long day will help.

      7. Get plenty of sleep.

      A good snooze is key when it comes to preventing colds. In one JAMA Internal Medicine study, researchers gave 153 healthy men and women nasal drops containing rhinovirus and tracked their sleep habits. They found that people who regularly got less than seven hours of sleep were three times more likely to come down with a cold than those who slept eight hours or more each night. The National Sleep Foundation recommends aiming for at least seven to nine hours per night.

      8. Reach for zinc.

      Research suggests that zinc can actually decrease the growth of viruses, says Dr. Clements. Plus, taking zinc (typically in the form of zinc lozenges or zinc gluconate nasal sprays) seems to reduce the duration and severity of symptoms right after they come on, according to the NIH.

      “Although the proper dosing is unclear at this time, studies have shown a benefit only at daily doses greater than 75 milligrams,” says Dr. Clements. The NIH suggests most adults need much less than that to meet their daily needs, so just go for foods rich in zinc, rather than a supplement (unless you talk to your doc about it first). Meat, tofu, oysters, and lentils are all great sources of the mineral.

      9. Label your drinking glass.

      “When a family member has a cold, try to use disposable glasses or label glasses. This can help to prevent accidental spread of the virus,” says Dr. Khan. And be extra careful when it comes to sharing objects that can get contaminated by a family member who is sick, especially amid COVID-19, such as telephones, towels, or utensils.

      10. Power up with probiotics.

      Not all bacteria are bad—the good kind of bugs in your gut, found in probiotic foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kombucha, might help support your immune system. After all, a large portion of your immune system can be found right in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

      One 2014 study published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport actually found that rugby players who took a probiotic supplement experienced far fewer colds and GI infections than those who popped a placebo.

      More research needs to be done to confirm that probiotics can truly keep viruses away, but studies suggest that the good bugs seem to be beneficial when symptoms hit, too. For instance, in a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that even though college students taking probiotics or a placebo caught colds at a similar rate, those taking probiotics experienced less intense symptoms (like a stuffy nose or sore throat) for a shorter amount of time.

      11. Wear a face mask.

      Wearing a face mask is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as other respiratory infections like a cold. Not only does it protect those around you, but research shows that a face mask helps protect the wearer, too.

      Viruses, including those that cause a cold, flu, or COVID-19, typically spread from an infected person to others through the air after a cough or sneeze. When everyone wears a mask, we protect one another from our potentially infected respiratory droplets.

      What’s more, “studies demonstrate that cloth mask materials can also reduce wearers’ exposure to infectious droplets through filtration, including filtration of fine droplets and particles less than 10 microns,” a research brief from the CDC states, noting that “multiple layers of cloth with higher thread counts have demonstrated superior performance compared to single layers of cloth with lower thread counts.”

      12. Get the flu vaccine.

      While the cold and flu are caused by very different viruses, they can feel awfully similar when it comes to symptoms. However, the flu will hit you harder and can have risky complications, especially if you already have a weakened immune system. The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to get the flu shot every year, since the circulating viruses constantly change. The CDC recommends getting the flu shot (or nasal spray) as soon as the vaccine is available, ideally before October.

      13. Avoid those who are obviously sick.

      Sometimes this is easier said than done, but doing your best to stay away from those who are coughing and sneezing will go a long way toward keeping you healthy, Dr. Russo points out. “If you don’t interact with someone who is sick, you’re not going to get infected,” he says. While you could pick up the common cold from touching something that’s infected and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, Dr. Russo says that respiratory secretions that are dispelled when an infected person coughs or sneezes “are an important mode of transmission.

      Keep in mind, too, that people can shed infectious viruses a day before they develop. So, while this isn’t a fool-proof way to keep you healthy, it can help.

      What to do if you get a cold.

      If you develop cold-like symptoms, it’s a good idea to rule out other contagious viruses, like COVID-19, Dr. Russo says. After all, the currently dominant strains of the virus that are circulating often cause symptoms that can be confused with a cold, and it’s a good idea to know what you’re dealing with so you can get the proper treatment and avoid spreading it to others.

      If your COVID-19 test is negative, keep in mind that you may have the flu. And, if you’re able, it’s not a bad idea to get tested for that. (Pro tip, per Dr. Russo—the flu tends to come on hard and fast, vs. a cold or COVID-19, which typically has symptoms that come on a little more gradually.)

      Don’t have any of those? There’s no specific treatment for the common cold, but you can do a few things to help yourself feel better. The CDC recommends doing the following:

      • Rest
      • Drink plenty of fluids
      • Consider taking OTC cold medicines to ease symptoms (just know that they won’t make your cold go away any faster)

      Worth noting, per the CDC: Antibiotics won’t help if you have a cold, since they don’t work against viruses.

      The bottom line: Prevention really is the best medicine.

      But don’t freak out if you do get sick—most adults get at least one or two colds every year.

      “There are multiple viruses that cause the common cold,” Dr. Russo says. In fact, the American Lung Association says that there are more than 200 different viruses that cause the common cold, including rhinoviruses, coronaviruses, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

      “Even if you had a cold before, it doesn’t protect you from all the viruses that are circulating,” Dr. Russo says. Your immunity also wanes over time, he points out.

      Just keep an eye on how long your cold lasts: Most people recover from colds between seven and 10 days after their symptoms started, the CDC says. If it stretches much longer than that or if you feel like you’re getting worse, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor.

      “If you’re having high fevers or persistent symptoms, be sure to see your doctor to make sure that nothing else is going on,” says Dr. Clements.

      After all, it’s more important than ever to get tested for COVID-19 if you think you may have been exposed to the virus. If you do happen to have a confirmed case of coronavirus rather than a cold, your doctor will guide you on next best steps depending on the severity of your symptoms.

      Related Story
      • Why Experts Are Predicting a Bad Flu Season

      Emily Shiffer

      Emily Shiffer is a former digital web producer for Men’s Health and Prevention, and is currently a freelancer writer specializing in health, weight loss, and fitness. She is currently based in Pennsylvania and loves all things antiques, cilantro, and American history.

      How to prevent a cold when you feel it coming: Remedies to try

      There is no cure for a cold, but getting enough rest, drinking fluids, and eating nutritious foods may help reduce symptoms. Some strategies might also help the cold go away sooner.

      Colds can occur at any time but are more common during the winter months. In the United States, adults experience an average of 2–3 colds every year, while children tend to get more.

      This article lists ten ways to help people feel better when they suspect a cold is coming.

      It also provides information about flu and COVID-19, as the symptoms of a cold can be similar to these conditions.

      Colds occur due to a viral infection. Many different viruses can cause them, but rhinoviruses are the most common reason.

      A person can catch a cold virus by:

      • inhaling droplets that contain virus particles from another person’s coughs or sneezes
      • coming into contact with droplets that contain the virus particles on surfaces, and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes

      Cold symptoms may include:

      • runny or stuffy nose
      • congestion
      • sneezing
      • sinus pain or pressure
      • sore throat
      • cough
      • mild to moderate chest discomfort

      Although there is no cure for the common cold, the illness typically goes away on its own in 7–10 days.

      In the meantime, there are some ways to ease cold symptoms, which we outline below.

      1. Drink plenty of fluids

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend drinking plenty of fluids when a person has a cold.

      The body needs water to carry out all its essential functions, including fighting off infection.

      Without sufficient water, people will begin to experience symptoms of dehydration, which can make a cold feel even worse.

      Some symptoms of dehydration include:

      • increased thirst or dry mouth
      • dizziness or lightheadedness
      • tiredness and fatigue

      People should aim to drink plenty of water and other liquids, such as broths and herbal teas.

      2. Get plenty of rest

      If someone feels a cold coming on, they should try to get plenty of sleep and rest. This will give the immune system the best chance of fighting off the infection.

      A 2015 study assessed the association between sleep and susceptibility to the common cold using 164 healthy participants. Each underwent a one-week sleep assessment before receiving a dose of rhinovirus via a nasal dropper.

      Those who had fewer than 5 hours of sleep per night had a 4.5 times greater risk of developing the common cold than those who slept for more than 7 hours per night. The researchers conclude there was a link between shorter sleep duration and increased susceptibility to the common cold.

      3. Manage stress

      People with stress-related disorders may have a higher risk of developing infections, as stress can compromise the immune system. Managing stress might be one way to reduce the risk of a cold.

      Finding ways to manage stress can help boost the body’s defenses against cold viruses and other pathogens. Some tips for managing stress include:

      • deep breathing exercises
      • mindfulness and meditation
      • taking a warm bath before bed

      4. Eat a balanced diet

      A balanced and varied diet will provide the nutrients the body needs to keep the immune system strong. A strong immune system is better able to fight off infections.

      The Department of Health and Human Services outlines the following dietary recommendations in their 2020-2025 dietary guidelines:

      • a variety of vegetables from all subgroups, including:
        • dark green, leafy vegetables
        • red and orange vegetables
        • starchy vegetables
        • legumes
      • fruits
      • grains, comprising at least 50% whole grains
      • fat-free or low fat dairy, or fortified soy beverages
      • a variety of protein-rich foods, such as:
        • seafood
        • lean meats
        • poultry
        • eggs
        • legumes
        • nuts and seeds
        • soy products
      • healthy oils

      5. Eat honey

      Honey has antioxidant and antimicrobial effects that may help combat infections.

      A 2021 study found that honey was more effective than other common treatments at improving the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections.

      The substance also creates a thin film over the mucous membranes, which may help relieve throat pain and inflammation.

      To help ease a sore throat or cough, a person can try stirring a tablespoon of honey into a cup of hot water or tea.

      However, honey is not suitable for children under 12 months of age due to the risk of contracting a rare but serious infection called infant botulism.

      6. Increase vitamin D levels

      There is some evidence that people with adequate vitamin D levels are less likely to get respiratory infections than those with lower levels.

      Natural sunlight helps the body synthesize vitamin D. However, sunlight can be scarce in some parts of the world, particularly during winter. If a person struggles to get enough sun exposure, they may find it helpful to take a vitamin D supplement.

      The Office of Dietary Supplements recommend that people aged 1–70 years get a minimum of 15 micrograms or 600 international units of vitamin D per day.

      Learn more about how much vitamin D someone needs and how to get more of it.

      7. Take zinc

      A 2012 review of 14 scientific studies investigated the effectiveness of zinc as a treatment for the common cold.

      The research found that people who took zinc supplements experienced a shorter duration of cold symptoms than those who took a placebo. Specifically, their cold symptoms lasted an average of 1–2 days shorter.

      However, people should be aware that zinc products can trigger side effects. The National Health Institutes’ National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NHICC) warns that intranasal zinc swabs and gels can cause permanent loss of sense of smell. They add that zinc tablets, lozenges, and syrup can also trigger nausea and other minor gut problems.

      8. Take vitamin C

      A 2013 review investigated whether taking vitamin C reduces the incidence, severity, or duration of the common cold.

      The study found that taking at least 200 mg per day of vitamin C did not reduce the risk of getting a cold. However, it did appear to reduce the duration of cold symptoms by an average of 8% in adults and 14% in children. This translates to approximately one fewer day of symptoms.

      A later review, from 2018, also concluded that taking vitamin C does not prevent a cold.

      The researchers note that further randomized controlled trials are necessary to confirm these findings.

      The CDC recommends breathing in steam or using a humidifier to relieve cold symptoms.

      People have long used steam when they have a cold to help mucus drain more easily. People also report that it makes them feel better.

      A 2017 review did not find enough evidence to confirm that inhaling steam is either beneficial or harmful, although two studies reported minor adverse effects.

      To use steam, a person can breathe in steam from a bowl of hot — but not boiling — water. Another option is to use a humidifying device.

      What are the best humidifiers for home and office use?

      10. Try over-the-counter medicines

      The following over-the-counter (OTC) medications will not cure a cold, but they may help alleviate symptoms:

      • pain relievers, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen
      • throat lozenges to relieve a sore throat
      • saline nasal spray or drops
      • cough and cold medicines for those aged 5 years and over

      Always talk to a doctor or pharmacist before taking these OTC medicines or before giving them to children.

      Because cold symptoms can resemble COVID-19, people should call a doctor to check whether they need testing. In addition to typical cold symptoms, COVID-19 may also trigger:

      • fever
      • shortness of breath
      • loss of taste and smell
      • gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea or vomiting

      A doctor can advise people on what to do next if they have symptoms that resemble COVID-19.

      Most people with COVID-19 experience mild symptoms and tend to recover at home without medical treatment. However, a person should call the emergency services if they experience any of the following:

      • difficulty breathing, or shortness of breath during walking or light activity
      • persistent pain or pressure in the chest
      • new confusion
      • bluish discoloration of the lips or face in lighter skin people, or gray and whitish discoloration in those with darker skin

      The CDC recommends seeking medical help if:

      • cold symptoms persist for more than 10 days
      • cold symptoms are severe or unusual
      • a child younger than 3 months of age becomes sick, and they are experiencing fever or lethargy
      • there has been potential exposure to someone with COVID-19

      Similarities to flu

      Flu symptoms can be similar to those of the common cold, which may include:

      • headache
      • body aches
      • fever
      • chills
      • weakness or fatigue

      Most people recover from the flu within 3–7 days, although a cough may last longer than 2 weeks. However, some people are at risk of developing complications due to this illness. Call a doctor if the person with symptoms is:

      • under 5 years of age
      • 65 years of age or older
      • pregnant
      • someone with an underlying medical condition

      Here are some questions people often ask about cold remedies.

      How do you get rid of a cold fast?

      There is no sure way to get rid of a cold, but staying at home, resting, and drinking plenty of fluids might help a person feel better sooner. There is also some evidence that vitamin C might slightly reduce the duration and severity of a cold.

      Which remedies do not work for a cold?

      Antibiotics will not cure a cold because they treat bacteria, and a cold is a virus. The NHICC also says there is not enough evidence to show that echinacea or probiotics can help. They also warn that echinacea can cause an allergic reaction in some people, and long-term use of probiotics may have adverse effects.

      How do I know if I have a cold or COVID-19?

      The best way is to take a test, as the symptoms can be similar. A fever is more likely with COVID-19 than with a cold, but not everyone with COVID-19 has a fever, and some people have a fever with a cold. Read here about common cold vs. COVID-19 symptoms.

      There is no cure for the common cold. However, people can take steps to ease the symptoms and shorten the duration of the illness. These include getting plenty of water and rest, eating a healthful diet, and taking OTC medicines and supplements.

      A cold will usually go away on its own. If someone still feels ill after 10 days or has severe symptoms, they should speak to a doctor.

      Some cold symptoms are similar to those of other viral infections, such as the flu and COVID-19. A doctor can assess whether a person may have COVID-19 and advise them on what to do next.

      Recommendations for the prevention and elimination of the consequences of cold


      Cold means air temperature close to 0°C and below. For most of Russia, cold is a typical phenomenon in autumn, winter, and early spring. The average temperature of the coldest month – January in central Russia is at least -12°С, often it drops to -35°С and lower. In the mountains at an altitude of 3000 meters and above, there is a real winter, regardless of the calendar season. With an increase in elevation for every 100 meters, the air temperature decreases by an average of 0.5°C. Outside the aircraft, which flies at an altitude of 10,000 meters, the air temperature is minus 45 – 50°C.

      Dependence of air temperature on terrain altitude

      Height, m ​​

      Air temperature, °С












      -17. 5







      The record low ambient air temperature on our planet was registered at the Vostok station in Antarctica in June 1982. The thermometer showed -89.2°C.

      Low air temperatures are extremely dangerous. Cold leads to intense heat loss by the body, causes a weakening of tactile and pain sensitivity, reduces muscle strength and reaction speed, paralyzes the will, thoughts, movements, and causes discomfort. The average human body temperature is 36.6°C. A change in this indicator to 30 ° C and below leads to a cooling of the body – hypothermia, in which the activity of all functional systems slows down. Irreversible changes and clinical death can occur when a person’s body temperature drops to 30 ° C, and at a body temperature of 24 – 25 ° C, death is inevitable. Prolonged exposure to cold on the body can lead to cooling, hypothermia, frostbite.

      Cooling. Cooling can be general or local. General cooling is a consequence of prolonged exposure to cold on the body. Local cooling occurs with short-term exposure to cold on separate, as a rule, unprotected areas of the body. Cooling can occur when schoolchildren stay in cold conditions for a long time, in a cold wind, frost, in a humid environment, in snow, cold water, or a cold room. Under these conditions, the body automatically increases the release of heat. When the amount of heat produced by the body is less than that which is consumed, the cooling process begins. The body reacts to cold by stopping sweating, goose bumps, and constriction of blood vessels on the surface of the skin, which keeps warm blood inside. Characteristic signs of severe cooling are: trembling, pallor of the skin, stiffness of movements, apathy, rare, shallow breathing, weak pulse, desire to group, press arms and legs to the body, “shrink”, drowsiness, loss of consciousness.

      Preventive measures to prevent the cooling of the body of schoolchildren include the use of warm clothes, limiting the time spent in the cold, periodic warming, drinking hot drinks.

      Hypothermia. Hypothermia is the process of constantly lowering body temperature to dangerous limits under the influence of cold. The rapid development of hypothermia in the body of schoolchildren is facilitated by: low temperature and high humidity, wind, lack of shelters and warm clothes, malnutrition, dehydration, lack of movement, illness. An extreme danger for the development of hypothermia is the simultaneous impact on a person of negative air temperature, high humidity and wind. The combination of wind with a speed of 10 m/s at an air temperature of -5°С according to the cold index corresponds to a twenty-degree frost. A wind speed of 10 m/s and an air temperature of -10°С correspond to thirty degrees of frost, with the same wind speed and an air temperature of -25°С, frost reaches 50 degrees. Wind speed of 18 m/s turns 45-degree frost into 90 degree.

      The main signs of hypothermia are: a decrease in body temperature below 36 ° C, a decrease in heart rate, a violation of the rhythm of breathing, a feeling of fatigue, drowsiness, slow speech, memory impairment, blue skin, loss of motor activity, loss of consciousness.

      The process of hypothermia proceeds most intensively when schoolchildren get into cold water, since the thermal conductivity of water is 27 times higher than that of air. Under these conditions, the body intensively loses heat, which leads to a decrease in body temperature. The speed of this process depends on the temperature of the water, the presence of a current, the physiological state of the victim, external weather conditions, clothing, and the ability to warm up after leaving the water. Getting a person into cold water first leads to a sharp increase in the number of heart contractions and an increase in blood pressure, the respiratory muscles contract reflexively, causing inhalation, which can lead to water entering the respiratory tract. A typical defensive reaction of the body to the action of cold water is cold shivering. It manifests itself in the form of rapid involuntary muscle contraction and an increase in body heat production. However, this reaction does not last long, and the body begins to cool rapidly. In this case, the pulse, respiration, blood pressure fall to critical values ​​and the person dies.

      Time safe stay in water depending on its temperature is: 24 ° C -7-9 hours; 5 – 15°C – 3.5 – 4.5 hours; 0 – 10°C – 20 – 40 minutes; -2°C 3-8 minutes.

      In addition to hypothermia, cold shock can also cause death in schoolchildren in cold water. It occurs at the moment of sudden entry into cold water, which leads to respiratory failure as a result of extensive irritation of the temperature receptors of the skin. In case of contact with cold water,


      Avoid exposure to cold water.

      • Try to get to the shore or life-saving equipment by active actions. Remember, after 20-30 minutes of work in cold water, the body’s thermal resources are completely depleted.
      • In the absence of the above options, stay on the surface of the water with minimal physical effort. Keep your head as high as possible above the water, take a compact “float” position: press your hips to your stomach, clasp your chest with your hands, group. This position ensures minimal heat loss.
      • If there are several people in cold water at the same time, snuggle up to each other as much as possible, hold hands, form a circle and stay afloat.
      • Use floating objects to save energy and keep you afloat.
      • If you reach the shore or watercraft, immediately warm up in any way possible: exercise, muscle tension and relaxation, use of shelters, fire, hot food, mutual assistance. If there is no way to dry wet clothes, lie down on the snow and roll on it, the snow will absorb some of the moisture from the clothes. If the air temperature is low and it is impossible to dry wet clothes, do not take them off. To ensure safety, make every effort and get to the accommodation. If exposure to cold water is unavoidable, wear warm clothes and, if possible, a wetsuit. Cuffs, sleeves, collar fasten, put on a hat.


      Immediately provide conditions for the termination of heat transfer by the body: pull the person out of cold water, snow, cold room, open, wind-blown space, lift from a wet, cold surface.

      • Determine the degree of hypothermia and the first steps for relief.
      • Warm the victim. Remove wet and put on dry, warm clothes and a hat, wrap in a blanket with an additional source of heat, give a hot drink, if possible, place in a bath, gradually bringing the water temperature to 40C; taking a warm bath should be stopped when the body temperature rises to 34C. In field conditions, containers with hot water, stones heated on fire, wrapped in cloth, can be used for heating. Apply warm objects to the back of the head, to the inguinal region, to the chest, armpits. You can use the heat of the human body. To do this, lie down next to the victim and cuddle up to him. First of all, you need to warm up the torso, and then the arms and legs.
      • If the victim is in a serious condition: loses consciousness, pulse and breathing are slow or absent, then it is necessary to immediately start providing emergency medical care, call a doctor or take the patient to a medical facility.

      When providing first aid to an injured person IT IS FORBIDDEN :

      • to carry out intensive warming: hot shower, hot bath, hot room;
      • rubbing a person, because this leads to an influx of cold blood from the periphery to the internal organs and the brain, which will continue to cool. Warming must go from the center to the periphery;
      • use open fire and alcohol;
      • put the person on a cold base and rub with snow.

      Along with the general hypothermia of the body, low temperature, high humidity, wind can cause local damage to the body – frostbite. Frostbite is called necrosis (death) or inflammation of tissues under the influence of cold. In this case, tissue fluid freezes in certain parts of the body. Most often these are open places: hands, face, neck, legs. Increases the likelihood of frostbite wet, damp clothes and shoes, poor nutrition, lack of hot food, inability to warm up, fatigue, blood loss, illness.

      There are four stages of frostbite according to the degree of injury.

      1st – blanching and redness of the skin, swelling and swelling of the affected area, pain and burning sensation at the site of the lesion, the appearance of watery blisters.

      2nd – circulatory disorder, blueness of the affected areas, their significant swelling, blisters filled with a clear liquid.

      3rd and 4th – necrosis of the skin, muscles, tendons, joints, decrease in skin temperature and loss of its sensitivity, stratification of dead areas, the formation of suppuration.

      Basic preventive measures to prevent hypothermia:

      • correct selection of clothing, footwear, equipment, food;
      • minimizing exposure to cold on exposed areas of the body;
      • active permanent movements;
      • control over open areas of the body, the ability to recognize the beginning of the process of frostbite, to take the necessary measures to provide assistance;
      • warming open cold areas of the body by contact with warm parts of the body: put your hands under the armpits or between the legs, put your hand on your ear, nose, cheek.


      Warm the frostbitten area of ​​the body, restore blood circulation by warming, massaging until the skin turns red, gaining sensitivity, allowing you to move your fingers. Take warm drinks: tea, milk, broth.

      • Stop exposure to cold by keeping the casualty warm.
      • If the skin does not return to normal within a few minutes, then the affected part should be placed in warm water, followed by treatment of the skin with alcohol and the application of a warming bandage.
      • If water blisters appear on the body, cover them with a napkin (bandage) after treatment with alcohol.
      • Wrap the affected limb with a warm cloth, lift, fix, which will reduce swelling.
      • Give painkillers: complamin, trental, hydrocortisone, heparin.
      • If necessary, send the victim to a medical facility, carefully wrapping him in warm clothes. During transportation, constantly monitor the condition of the victim.

      If the above measures do not bring the expected effect, the affected areas remain cold and blue, the victim must be urgently taken to the hospital to prevent further tissue death and gangrene.

      When providing first aid IT IS FORBIDDEN : rub the affected areas with snow, lubricate them with greasy ointments, warm them intensively.

      Prolonged exposure of schoolchildren to temperatures close to 0°C and high humidity can lead to frostbite of the lower extremities. Wet, tight shoes, wet footcloths and socks, lack of movement contribute to frostbite of the feet. The initial stage of frostbite is characterized by a decrease in the temperature of the feet, numbness, and pallor of the skin. Then the skin turns red, watery blisters may appear. This type of frostbite is conventionally called “trench foot”. When providing assistance, you need to carefully remove or cut shoes, socks and warm your feet.

      Keeping warm is a major concern when schoolchildren are in cold weather. For these purposes, warm clothes, shelters, fire, and movements are used. Life expectancy in cold conditions depends on the ambient temperature, its humidity, wind speed, the presence of warm clothes, shoes, headgear, shelter, food, fuel supplies, physical and moral condition of a person.

      Warm clothing is one of the main factors to counter the cold. Preference should be given to layered clothing. There is a direct relationship between the heat-insulating properties of clothing, ambient temperature, humidity and the time during which a person experiences comfort. In conditions of low air temperature, even the warmest clothes can only keep the body warm for a limited time. Particular attention should be paid to protecting the head. At an air temperature of -4 ° C, heat transfer from the head is approximately half of the total heat transfer of a person at rest, and at a temperature of -15 ° C, this figure is almost three-quarters.

      In cold weather, footwear and leg insulation must be of the utmost importance. Shoes should be taken one or two sizes larger than usual, which will ensure normal circulation of the feet and prevent frostbite. To warm the feet, insoles made of felt, felt, fur, hay, grass, shoe covers are used. Shoe covers are covers made of various materials that are worn on top of shoes. Wear woolen socks and footcloths on your feet. Reliable protection of hands from cold is provided by multilayer gloves.

      The most reliable means of protecting a person from the cold are closed shelters built from snow or equipped in it: caves, trenches, lairs, pits, holes, huts. Snow shelters provide an increase in the temperature inside the building by 15 – 20 ° C compared to the outside temperature, even without the use of heating means. At an outside air temperature of minus 40°C in a properly built snow shelter, a person can provide a significant increase in temperature to minus 3°O only due to body heat. Using a candle, the air in the shelter can be warmed up to 15°C. In the absence of a candle, you can use a homemade fat lamp. To make it, make a hole in the bottom of the can, insert a wick from a bandage, a handkerchief, or another cloth soaked in fat into it. Place pieces of fat (lard) around the wick, which will melt, feed the wick, support combustion, provide light and heat. In order to improve ventilation in the side surface of the jar, you need to make several holes.

      The bottom of the shelter should be covered with spruce branches, small branches, polyethylene, tarpaulin. When entering the shelter, you must clean your clothes and shoes from snow. All instructions of the senior must be carried out without delay and discussion. Inside the shelter there should be an object: a shovel, an ice pick, a knife, a stick, with which you can clear the exit, punch a hole or remove snow in case the shelter is destroyed.

      If you have sleeping bags, blankets, warm and dry personal items, you can stay in the shelter in a lying position, tightly clinging to each other. In the absence of warm clothes, everyone is in a tight group in a sitting position. Weakened, wounded, frostbitten, sick people should be put in the center of the circle on the legs of those sitting. All dry clothes must be put on, tucked under a belt or elastic band, put on a hood, wrap your neck and face with a scarf, rewind footcloths, unlace but do not take off your shoes, wrap your feet with dry things.

      In the absence of warm clothes in a cold shelter, it is impossible to sleep because of the threat of general hypothermia of the body. In such a situation, it is necessary to constantly rub the body, move the fingers and soles of the feet, move the hips, shoulders, arms, strain various muscle groups in turn. You can eat sugar, sweets, fat-containing foods, drink hot drinks if possible. If the situation requires a long stay of people in the shelter, then you need to sleep in turns.

      Fire is a reliable means of protection from the cold. To ensure the safety of vacationers, a constant watch is established around the fire. In the case when there is a large amount of fuel, you can build a large fire, after it is extinguished, clean up the remains and arrange an overnight stay on warm ground. The earth retains heat for several hours.


    1. Home

    2. Public Health – Seattle & King County

    3. emergency preparedness

    4. Tips to prepare yourself

    5. Hypothermia

    6. How to prevent hypothermia

    What is hypothermia?

    Hypothermia is a condition in which the body temperature drops significantly below normal. This is due to insufficient protection from exposure to cold. The smallest and the elderly are most susceptible to hypothermia under the influence of low temperatures.

    The danger and degree of hypothermia are in direct proportion to the presence of wet clothing, contact with metals, the weather harshness factor and the temperature difference between the body and the external environment. Vulnerability is increased if circulation is compromised as a result of cardiovascular disease, alcohol consumption, exhaustion, and/or hunger.

    What are the symptoms of hypothermia?

    • Uncontrollable shivering
    • Slow or slurred speech
    • Feeling extremely tired
    • Stumbling while trying to walk
    • Confusion (a person cannot think clearly)
    • Semiconscious or unconscious state

    What if someone develops hypothermia?

    • If the person is unconscious, seek medical attention immediately. In the event of a cardiac arrest (heart attack), have someone call an ambulance and then apply resuscitation (CPR).
    • WARNING: Do not rewarm a hypothermic person too quickly.
    • Take the person indoors or to a dry place protected from the wind.
    • Remove wet clothes from the person and wrap them in dry blankets. Be sure to wrap your head, hands and feet.
    • Lay on the bed close to a warm – not hot – heater.
    • Lie under the covers next to the supercooled person to warm it with your body heat. If possible, ask the other person to lie on the other side.
    • Give the supercooled warm – not hot – broth or soup. You can’t give alcohol.
    • Place the infant under your clothes directly on the skin.

    How can hypothermia be prevented?

    • Wear warm, layered clothing that protects your hands and feet well (do not wear overly tight bracelets, socks and shoes).
    • Wear warm hats.