A cure for freezing to death

My paternal aunt and uncle are…eccentric.

In an awesome way, mind. In addition to teaching me to identify Cob trees, my uncle taught me to drive stickshift on his farm…using a Japanese Isuzu, wherein the steering wheel is on the right. And my aunt (who pretends to be normal) taught me how to administer shots to cats. Eight or nine, to be more specific.

For Christmas, they sent me the Temperance Cook Book (without the use of wine, cider, or alcoholic liquors!), copyright 1878. I actually think this is a family heirloom. Of all the heirlooms I own, this is probably the most delightful.

You see, this is not merely a cookbook. This contains all sorts of practical advice – housekeeping, laundry, taking care of the sick. And various cures. My favorite is probably the cure for poisoning by alcohol. I don’t think they mean actual alcohol poisoning. I think they mean just plain drinking it.

Anyway, it being a frigid day today (my car registered -1 this morning), I figured I’d use the opportunity to share one of these cures.

Asphyxia from Freezing

Persons have been restored after being frozen – apparently to death – for several days. The proper course to pursue, when the person is in a state of insensibility from freezing, is to put him into a cold room or barn, and cover the whole body with snow – if it can be obtained – leaving the mouth and nostrils free. As the snow melts and runs off, supply its place with more. If you cannot get snow, use ice-water; put the person in an ice-water bath, leaving the mouth and nose free. In this way, thaw the body slowly and gradually, until the limbs are pliable and natural, and the frost is out of the body. At the same time send for a physician. As the frost comes out of the body, rub the whole surface of the body and limbs with snow or ice-water, till the skin becomes red. Keep the patient in a cold room, wrapped in cold flannel cloths, and give a stimulating injection every fifteen or twenty minutes, such as tincture of camphor, tincture of cayenne, a teaspoonful each in a half-pint of warm milk or water, or the camphor alone will do in warm water. When symptoms of returning animation appear, give injections of warm, not strong, coffee every five or ten minutes. A warm room will kill your patient.

There it is, kids. Next time you encounter someone who froze to death (possibly a neanderthal in a glacier), don’t forget to inject them with coffee as you thaw them out.