For many of us, the holidays represent one of the few opportunities we get each year to spend a little quality time with the great outdoors. For those of us that live in the colder regions of the country, that means braving potentially freezing conditions, and depending on what you do outdoors, adding frostbite and hypothermia to the laundry list of potential risks for which we need to account.

In 2004, I found myself hospitalized with hypothermia. I was fortunate to be close to one of southern Vermont’s largest hospitals, and though I don’t recall much of the treatment I received, my family has since told me it was stellar. I do, however, faintly recall waking up as the nurses cut all of my clothes off of me and realizing to my abject horror that I had gone to high school with one of them.

Don’t end up naked and freezing on a table in front of girls you went to high school with. It’s much easier to just keep an eye out for the symptoms of hypothermia and to take some simple precautions to help keep you safe and coherent when temperatures begin to fall.

Marine Corps Order 3470.1A provides guidance on preventing cold-weather injuries, particularly hypothermia and frostbite. Although you can find similar information from a multitude of sources like the Mayo Clinic and the Center for Disease Control, my penchant for the Naval letter format and the fact that I keep this order, along with a number of others, in a binder in my office helps me retain the necessary wave tops I need to keep my pants intact and on my body during cold-weather hikes and camping. Those nurses aren’t going to get another free show out of me, nor will they from you if you follow these simple guidelines.