The thought of being frozen to death is no doubt a scary one. But how long does it actually take for your body to freeze? The human body, despite what you may think, is quite strong and capable of handling many dire conditions. So the answer to this question is not as simple as one might think.
Our body constantly produces heat. So some of the effects of cold temperatures get counteracted. However, when faced with extreme cold, it cannot produce heat fast enough to maintain the optimal body temperature needed for survival. This condition is simply known as Hypothermia.
In this article, we will explore the limits of the human body and answer the age-old question of how long does it take to freeze to death.
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What Can Cause Human Body to Freeze?
The optimal temperature for the human body is 98.5 degrees. That is the average temperature that our body usually stays at. As the temperature starts decreasing gradually, you will start feeling chilly.
At 95 degrees, you start developing the symptoms of hypothermia. This is the danger threshold, and once you reach this point, you will develop shivering or drowsiness. Things will get even worse if the temperature keeps dipping below that point.
Over time, fumbling hands or shivering will be the least of your problems. You will suffer from memory loss, confusion, and the inability to talk properly. Once you reach 95 degrees, your first priority should be to get inside your house and get as warm as you can.
At around 85 to 82 degrees, you can get unconscious. Your body will go numb, and you will face difficulty breathing properly. However, death happens much later. Typically, the human body ceases to function at around 70 degrees Celsius. However, the effects of going below 80 degrees can last a lifetime; it can even cause paralysis.
Frostbite is a skin condition that occurs when your body parts are exposed to extreme cold. It is the exact opposite of a sunburn. Typically, this condition occurs in unprotected areas of the body such as the nose, ears, lips, or even hands.
The effects of this condition usually start with a sense of pain and cold on the affected regions. Prolonged exposure to cold can result in feeling numbness since the tissue starts to freeze.
How Long Does It Take to Freeze to Death?
Now that you understand the basics of how the human body reacts to cold, it is time for the million-dollar question. The answer, however, is not a simple one. The time it takes for the body to freeze depends on the mode of exposure.
For example, if you dive into the icy waters of a lake, you will last hardly 10-15 minutes. Not only is it cold underwater, but the extra wetness will also help in drastically reducing the temperature.
On the other hand, if you stand bare skin outside on a snowy winter night, you might be able to survive around an hour. If the weather is particularly chilly that night, you might not even last that long.
Your outfit can also contribute to how soon you will freeze. Typically, winter clothes help regulate a lot of body heat and will prevent you from freezing any time soon.
How to Prevent Freezing
Freezing to death is in no way a common occurrence. Our body is stronger than we often give credit. Unless you are overly careless, the risk of you freezing to death is already quite slim.
The following tips will help keep you warm and eliminate any chance of you freezing to death.
- Always wear dry clothes when heading outside. A warm, dry set of clothes can protect you better against chilly weather. On the other hand, a wet set of clothes will lose heat faster and will result in drastic conditions before you can react.
- Wear layered pieces of clothing in cold weather. You want an insulation layer that regulates your core temperature under your upper layer. And a jacket or coat over everything is a must.
- Do not overlook the importance of covering your sensitive skin parts. Always wear a scarf, hat, and gloves to ensure these parts do not get frostbitten.
- If you or anyone near you experiences hypothermia, get help immediately. The same goes for frostbite.
- Drive carefully in the winter. The last thing you want is to get stuck on the road without any help nearby.
Freezing to death does not sound like a good way to go. So make sure you are always protected against the cold winter weather by taking proper precautions.
We hope our article could help you understand the severity of hypothermia and how long it takes to get a hold of your body.