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Maintain Your Core Temperature


When you are in an emergency or outdoor situation, you need to maintain your core temperature to ensure health and survival.

Maintain Your Core Temperature

When you are in a wilderness survival situation, you need to prioritize your needs. The Law of Threes helps provide a solid guideline as to what you need to prioritize, when you are trying to survive in the wilderness. The Law of Threes: Survival is possible for three minutes without air. Survival is possible for three hours without warmth. Survival is possible for only three days without water. Survival is possible for three weeks without food.

The Law of Threes:

  • Survival is possible for up to three minutes without air.
  • Survival is possible for up to three hours without warmth.
  • Survival is possible for up to three days without water.
  • Survival is possible for up to three weeks without food.

Being out in the wilderness during the cooler or cold seasons or being wet from rain, sweat or immersion in water will affect your body’s ability to regulate it’s core temperature.

It only takes 2° – 3° change to lower your body temperature into a seriously dangerous situation. A good indicator of this is if you start shaking or experience severe chills.

In order to maintain core body temperature,  you need to remember three methods.

  • Appropriate clothing, body cover, or insulation
  • Adequate shelter
  • Fire for heat

The primary method to maintain warmth is to start at home before you head out. Always remember to wear season and temperature appropriate undergarments, clothing, and outerwear.

Worried about choosing the right fabrics or wearing the correct layers? See our post: How Should You Dress to Survive?

You also need to bring emergency wear for adverse weather. Even if there is no rain in the forecast, always plan ahead and bring a rain jacket. Keeping dry is one of the fundamental keys to keeping warm.

If you do get wet, change into dry clothing. Wearing wet clothing will rapidly cool you down and drop your core temperature.

Always have an emergency blanket in your pack or pocket. These super-compact “space blankets” are inexpensive and can be a lifesaver when you need to maintain your core temperature. Keep some in your automobile and first aid kits also.

In a survival scenario, having a military poncho or tarp in your pack, is already a great way of getting out of the weather and fashioning a quick shelter.

Using a poncho or tarp as a shelter, provides you with almost limitless shelter configurations.

 Poncho Shelters*  Tarp Shelters
us-poncho-shelters tarp shelters

*Poncho Shelters from a US military manual


The key to using a poncho or tarp to make sure that they face and block the wind so that it shields your body. Ensure that all the corners are securely staked to the ground with stakes or sticks.

If you plan to be out in the elements for an extended period of time then you should have already brought along a tent, or have other shelter options (hammock and tarp, cabin, etc). A good tent can go a long way in keeping you out of the elements and help in keeping you warm. People have lived in tents for thousands of years.

Building and maintaining a good fire can maintain your core temperature. It also allows you to cook your food and boil your water.

When building a fire remember that you need an ignition source (lighter, ferro rod, bow drill or matches) and wood, dry herbivore dung or other flammable materials. See: Building a Fire Using a Tinder Bundle

To maximize warmth from a campfire, you need to use a heat reflector. You can use the natural landscape or build an  fire reflector (pile up rocks or wood) to reflect the heat of the fire back to you. You can also use an thermal reflective blanket or regular tarp as a heat reflector.

Next time you are feeling cold remember these great tips for maintaining your core temperature!