The Silent Killer Many Peppers Forget To Prepare For

When we think of someone perishing due to extreme temperatures, the image that often comes to mind is of an individual stranded atop a mountain or falling through ice. While these scenarios do occur, what many fail to grasp is that deaths resulting from weather exposure are a common occurrence – even within the confines of one’s own home.

In the summer, we often hear warnings about the dangers of heat exposure. However, an interesting study published in The Lancet journal reveals that cold weather actually claims the lives of 20 times more people than hot weather does.

In recent years, mortality rates in the United States during winter months have been consistently 8% to 12% higher than those in non-winter months. This trend is evident from the data on cold-related deaths provided by the Environmental Protection Agency.

 There have been multiple times throughout history when a sudden and drastic change in temperature has led to deaths by exposure.

People were unprepared for cold temperatures, and they paid the price with their lives.

Exposure Can Happen In The Summer

Mount Washington, situated in New Hampshire, is renowned as a dangerous hiking destination. Despite not being the tallest peak or featuring the most arduous terrain, its weather can swiftly shift to unpredictable and extreme conditions. Mount Washington is only a little over 6,000 in elevation, but even in the summer, gusts at the peak can hit 90 mph and above, causing windchill in the 20s.

In July of 2022, a man died of hypothermia while climbing the mountain. Xi Chen, from Massachuttes, was above the treeline on Mt. Washington when strong winds created a spontaneous sleet rain storm. It took rescuers seven hours to get him aid at the base hospital because the wealth was so severe. Sadly, after “life-saving efforts were attempted for several hours” he succumbed to exposure.

One of the problems at Mount Washington is that lots of people like to hike it (many are inexperienced) and don’t prepare for the weather they will experience toward the summit. The last time I hiked Washington, it was August, and the temperature at the base was in the mid-80s. When I got to the summit just a few hours later (enjoying the scenic views), the wind was gusting between 60-80 mph with a summit temp of around the mid-50s. That put the wind chill in the mid-40s which isn’t too bad but I was also really sweaty.

However, I did my research and prepared.

In my pack, I had a set of winter clothes, including gloves, just in case. I threw my fleece on with a beanie hat, and I was good to go (I didn’t need the gloves). Truthfully, I had wet weather gear and a kit of adequate winter clothing just in case. Was my pack heavy for a shorter hike? Yes. Was I ready just in case? You bet.

New Hampshire Fish and Wildlife Lt. Bob Mancini Jr. once said, “Mt. Washington is historically known to be one of the worst weather locations in the entire world.”

The point is even in the summer, people can die of exposure.

What We Can Learn: Exposure isn’t a seasonal thing, and we must always do research and prepare for the unexpected.

Winter Storm Uri in Texas in 2021


We expect blizzards in the North, but disasters often happen when areas not accustomed to snow and ice get walloped.

Like what happened in Texas during winter storm Uri in 2021.

The winter storm that occurred on Valentine’s Day caused a tragic toll, with 246 confirmed deaths attributed to its impact.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, many of the dead were homeless. However, there was a decent percentage of people who died “engaging in outdoor repair activity during the storm, not wearing appropriate clothing or enough layering.”

What We Can Learn: Dress appropriately and get an understanding of the conditions you are in.

Hypothermia Can Happen Indoors

My family almost experienced this.

We had just moved from the Northeast part of the USA to Georgia in November of 2022. After we sold our house, we sort of had an idea of where to live; however, we wanted to get to know the area before purchasing a home, so we decided to rent a townhouse in a newer development.

Shortly after we arrived, the area experienced a once-in-a-generation days-long cold snap, causing temperatures in the Atlanta area to have highs in the teens.

The construction and appliances, such as furnaces, in the southeastern region of the USA were not adequately designed for temperatures in the teens. Water lines were bursting left and right, the heating unit in the townhouse couldn’t cope, the windows lacked insulation, and to our surprise, the plumbing holes leading into the townhome were not even properly sealed.

Fortunately, the power didn’t go out, and I insisted on holding onto our portable electric heaters, just in case. I distinctly recall an argument with my wife, who was eager to sell them at the yard sale before our move. However, I stood firm and refused to sell.

Boy, did those suckers come in handy. We all slept in one room at night and, during the day, got the house to a nice balmy 55 degrees. I also had the generator out and ready to go if the power went out.

Since it was around Christmas time, we notified the rental management company we were bailing and headed to my inlaws.

It is a common misconception that cold exposure or hypothermia is limited to outdoor environments. However, we were just one or two mistakes away from experiencing it ourselves.

Not long ago, the actress Alicia Witt from The Walking Dead, revealed her parents died from “exposure to the cold” inside their home after their heating system failed.

During the storm in Texas, about a dozen people died after losing power.

According to AP News, “They include an 11-year-old boy who died in his bed in Conroe, near Houston, and two older men found dead in their homes in the small West Texas town of Buffalo Gap in Taylor County.”

One other thing, please, please make sure you are ventilating your home during occurrences like this. Many people die because of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Always Be Prepared 

We don’t want anyone to die from cold exposure. We want our readers to learn from history so that it doesn’t repeat itself.

You can take steps today to make sure you are always safe from the cold.

  • Always Have an Emergency Blanket and Hand Warmers in your vehicle and at home. Ensure you always carry these two essential emergency supplies during winter months or when traveling to higher elevations. Despite their small and lightweight nature, they can be lifesavers if you find yourself stranded in severe weather conditions or experiencing prolonged power outages.
  • Keep a Car Emergency Kit in Your Trunk. Driving in winter weather conditions can be perilous. It is crucial to equip your vehicle with a car emergency kit at all times. Additionally, ensure that your kit includes not only emergency supplies but also provisions such as food and water.
  • Pay Attention to the Weather. Before you head anywhere, check the weather. It is astonishing how many individuals end up at risk during hiking expeditions simply because they neglected to check the weather conditions beforehand. If your area is about to experience a dramatic weather event do a little research.
  • Abstain From Alcohol. Alcohol deceives individuals into believing it provides warmth when in reality, it hastens the loss of heat. Not only that, is skews your decision-making ability.
  • Wear the correct clothing. Excessive insulation leads to sweating, while inadequate insulation accelerates heat loss. Up to 50% of body heat can escape from an uncovered head, so it’s always advisable to wear a hat when venturing outdoors.
  • Be Humble. While experience can be valuable, it’s important to remain humble and not let it cloud your judgment or tempt you into unnecessary risks. Having experience doesn’t excuse venturing out into a snowstorm for a quick errand without taking proper precautions. Just imagine deciding not to bundle up, only to end up sliding off the road and losing consciousness, only to be buried by a passing snow plow. When you finally regain consciousness, you realize the unfortunate truth – your phone is shattered, and you now have to embark on a freezing walk to find safety. Will you make it? The odds would have been in your favor if you had dressed warmly, but your experience led you to believe that the store was just a short distance away and you’d be fine. This scenario happens to people every year, so it’s crucial to remain grounded and humble.

Hope you have a great day!


Similar Articles

Most Popular