It’s unknown exactly what temperature the human body must fall to in order for death to set in. Back in their day, the Nazi’s estimated it to be somewhere around 77 degrees Fahrenheit, but people have died from both warmer and colder temps, which means it’s on an individual basis I suppose.
The lowest core temperature ever recorded in an adult who survived the hypothermia was 60.8 degrees Fahrenheit, and in a child it was 55.4. One thing doctors do know is that more lean people with less fat and more muscle succumb to the cold faster than the out of shape with a spare tire.
Hypothermia begins to set in at 95 degrees and its symptoms are shivering, hypertension and vasoconstriction, all of which the body does to maintain heat in its vital organs.
As the cold sets in and core temperatures drop even more, shivering becomes more severe, you become less coordination, your brain functions start to fall off, confusions sets in and you become more lethargic. Your skin becomes pale and takes on a blueish tint as surface blood vessels constrict even more to preserve heat. This happens at around 90-92 degrees.
Once your core temp drops to 86 and below, amnesia sets in, your heart rate drops greatly, you become very sluggish, your skin begins to swell and turns blue, blood pressure drops, and respiration significantly decreases. You become disoriented and combative, and can even fall into a stupor. At this point its said that brain damage can occur from lack of oxygen and major organs begin to fail as well.
Alcohol can actually increase the effects of hypothermia and speed the process because it thins the blood, so the common myth that drinking a shot of bourbon will warm you up is a lie and is not recommended should you find yourself in a position where you’re combating the cold. Water immersion also greatly speeds the process, and you can actually die within an hour from being in 50 degree water.
With the cold weather upon us it’s a good idea to take precautions in case you find yourself stranded in the cold. Keep a blanket in your vehicle along with a small shovel in case you have to dig out of the snow. It’s also a good idea to keep some snacks and water handy as well as an extra jacket or sweater in case you find yourself stranded for a prolonged period of time.
Whatever you do, just make sure you don’t end up like the people in the video.