Survival Tips

What is Thermoregulation?

If you’re warm-blooded then you’re able to thermoregulate. Humans and almost all animals are able to do this. In fact, it happens without us even really knowing about it or consciously making that decision. Thermoregulation is essentially keeping your body temperature the same, even as the outside environment and temperature changes. As humans, we know the body should be at 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. However, when it’s 10° F outside your body temperature remains at 98.6 °F. Even if it’s upwards of 100°F outside, your internal temperature is still 98.6°F. Of course, this varies a little bit depending on illness, etc.

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Thermoregulation is so incredibly important because if the body slips below this normal temperature or range, the organism will die. We call it hypothermia when the body temperature dips too low. Not all animals and organisms have this, however, and I’m sure you’ve heard of cold-blooded animals (turtles, frogs, snakes, etc.) These organisms adjust their body temperature based on their environment.

The colder your body gets and the lower the internal temperature drops the more effects you will see on your body. Once you enter hypothermia, which is when the internal temperature drops below 95° F, you will begin seeing signs. First, your muscles become tight and you begin shivering. Blood moves towards your internal organs to keep them warm and safe and you may notice that your lips, nose, and digits begin losing color or even turning a blueish hue.

Hypothermia is deadly. Find out more about it here, and how to avoid it here.

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On the opposite side of the spectrum, when the body gets too warm, it is called hyperthermia. This occurs when your body temperature rises above 100° F. Typically, we see this when it occurs when we have the flu. We often sweat, feel fatigued, and are dizzy. This can also happen due to a lack of water and rigorous activity in extremely hot temperatures.

Knowing this information is important for you to know because although our body goes through this process regularly and automatically, it’s isn’t impossible to knock it out of wack. Don’t wait until you start violently shivering to make a fire or find warmth. Be mindful that your body will try as hard as it can to keep you warm, but you have to make some effort as well.

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In addition, don’t walk in the sun for hours on end until you’re burnt and sweating, and dizzy. Stop and get some water, find some shade or somewhere cool, and let your body regulate itself before heading back out.

Thank goodness our bodies have such amazing talents and we are able to thermoregulate. But be sure to keep this in mind as you are out adventuring, and be safe.

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