All bets are off. You accepted the dare, and now it’s time to face your biggest challenge.
Surviving naked in the Arctic is not something that many people endure. For most people, the odds of surviving would not be very high. If you’re naked when temperatures drop to -20°C (-4°F), and the winds are around 37 km/h (23 mph), you’d develop extreme frostbite within 10 minutes. You could die from hypothermia within half an hour. And since the average arctic winter is around -34°C (-30°F), the odds of surviving naked are not very good.
Which breathing techniques can help? Can you eat snow to stay hydrated? And what about curious polar bears?
Humans are basically tropical animals. We’re not equipped to live in the cold without layers of warm clothing, and we need shelter to keep us warm. So if you find yourself naked in the arctic and want to survive, follow these steps.
Step 1: Breathe Hard
Whether you’ll survive depends on keeping your body temperature high enough. Using meditation and controlled breathing can help. We’ll get to that in a second. Your normal body temperature is around 37°C (98.6°F) to 38°C (100.4°F), and it needs to stay within this range. If your body temperature drops to 35°C (95°F), you’ll have hypothermia.
You’ll feel extreme cold as you start to go numb, turn blue, and your blood diverts away from your extremities. If you suffer severe hypothermia and survive, it could damage your organs, and you’ll face permanent medical issues.
Here’s how you can protect yourself by using breathing and meditation techniques. You can try a method used by athlete Wim Hof, known as The Iceman. He has learned to withstand frigid temperatures by controlling his breathing, heart rate, and blood circulation through intensive training. Even more impressive than Hof’s world records, he discovered that the autonomous nervous system is related to the innate immune response, and you can choose to influence it. You can begin to practice his method by taking cold showers. Don’t clench up so your muscles warm you up. Instead, allow your metabolism to do it. And use meditation to focus on the painkilling part of your brain, fighting the hypothermia and keeping your body warm.
Step 2: Seek Shelter
As soon as you find yourself naked in the arctic, your number one enemy will be the cold. Depending on the wind and temperature, you could find yourself dead within an hour. Building a shelter will be your best tool to ensure your survival.
In 2019, 30-year-old Tyson Steele faced a predicament similar to that of surviving naked in the Arctic. Steele lived in a tiny hut in Alaska, 32 km (20 mi) away from the nearest town. An ember from his chimney set fire to his hut, his whole home was ablaze, and he was stranded in sub-zero conditions with nowhere to go. Steele built a small shelter from the debris of his former hut. He survived by eating canned food and staying in blankets for three weeks until s helicopter rescued him.
Step 3: Get Your Blood Moving
If you cannot build a shelter, it is crucial to stay active and keep your blood flowing. However, this does not mean doing excessive movement that will burn too many of your much-needed calories and cause you to sweat. Instead, walk in place, and slightly twist your torso from side to side while shivering and making as many other small movements as possible, such as flexing your toes and fingers, and rolling your shoulders. These movements will result in a similar calorie output to pacing in circles, with the advantage of significantly reducing the airflow around your body.
Step 4: Drink
It is imperative to stay hydrated, and it’s easy to lose track of your hydration when you’re cold. But eating snow is not a good water source. It does not work to keep you hydrated. When you consume snow, it is a solid, but your body needs liquid water. So, your body has to heat and melt the snow. That makes you more dehydrated, and you’ll lose more water than you are getting from the melted snow. If snow is your only source of water, try your best to melt it before drinking it.
Step 5: Don’t Pet the Polar Bears
If you were to encounter a polar bear during your adventure, slowly drop any accessories or objects you have. Polar bears are curious. They will stop to sniff and check out anything you drop, giving you a chance to escape.
- “Hypothermia And Cold Water – Canadian Red Cross”. Red Cross Canada.
- “Outdoor Myths: Can Eating Snow Lead To Dehydration?”. 2014. Sunny Sports Blog.
- “The Science Behind The Wim Hof Method”. 2021. wimhofmethod.com.
- “How to go beyond diet and exercise to incorporate a ‘third pillar of fitness’ into your training”. Kevin, Loria. 2021. Business Insider.
- “Get naked, and other advice to fend off a polar bear attack”. Paula, Froelich. 2020. New York Post.
- “How long could you survive naked in Antarctica?”. quora.com.
- “The man who refused to freeze to death”. Park, William. 2021. bbc.com.