The Outdoorsman on Hypothermia: Signs, Treatment, Prevention

Before I get started today, I would first like to thank my new sponsor Mystix Inc.

With many of the hunting closed, and temperatures dropping, many hunters and outdoor enthusiasts are turning to the wide open deserts in pursuit of coyotes, rivers for waterfowl, frozen lakes for fish or the mountains to snowmobile or ski. All to fulfill our need to be outdoors.  In today’s article, I will be reviewing a past article in which I went over the symptoms and treatment for one of the most common medical emergencies to happen during the winter months.

Hypothermia

What is Hypothermia?

Hypothermia is a medical emergency occurring when your body loses heat at a faster pace than it can produce heat, which causes dangerously low body temperatures. Most commonly occurs when the body is exposed to cold-weather and cold water.

Normal body temperature is around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

Some of the most common causes of Hypothermia occur when a person is:

  • Wearing clothes that are not warm enough for the weather conditions
  • Staying outside in the cold for too long
  • Inability to get out of wet clothes or move to a warm, dry location
  • Falling into water

Symptoms

One of the first and most common signs of Hypothermia is Shivering. Shivering is an automatic defense against cold temperatures. It is a way for your body to attempt to warm itself.

A person with Hypothermia is often unaware of their condition because the symptoms most often begin gradually. Below is a list of Hypothermia symptoms:

  • Shivering
  • Slurred Speech or Mumbling
  • Slow, Shallow Breathing
  • Weak Pulse
  • Clumsiness or Lack of Coordination
  • Drowsiness or Very Low Energy
  • Confusion or Memory Loss
  • Loss of Consciousness
  • Bright Red, Cold Skin (In Infants)

The confusion associated with Hypothermia can be especially dangerous because it prevents self-awareness and can often lead to risky behavior.

Risk Factors

Some of the most common risk factors for Hypothermia include:

  • Exhaustion
  • Older Age
  • Very Young Age
  • Mental Illness
  • Alcohol And Drug Use
  • Current Health Conditions
  • Medications

Complications

Some of the most common complications associated with Hypothermia include:

  • Freezing of Body Tissues (Frostbite)
  • Decay And Death of Tissue (Gangrene)
  • Death (An average of just over 1,000 people die each year due to hypothermia)

Prevention

Cover (Hats, Gloves, Face Masks prevent body heat from escaping the head, hands, and face)

Overexertion (Avoid losing body heat rapidly by not overworking your body)

Layers (Wear loose-fitting, layered, lightweight clothing. Wool, silk or polypropylene inner layers trap body heat best. Avoid cotton.)

Dry (Stay as dry as possible. If your clothing gets wet, change out of it as soon as possible. Especially gloves, hats, and socks.)

When To Seek Help

The best time to call 911 or seek medical attention for someone who shows any signs of hypothermia is Immediate. DO NOT WAIT… Seek help right away.

While you wait for help to arrive or while transporting the patient:

Gently move them inside if possible

Carefully remove their wet, clothing and replace it with warm, dry coats or blankets, keep them calm.

 

Following these safety steps will ensure that your next wintertime outdoor experience will be a safe and enjoyable one.

Remember to always stay safe and enjoy the outdoors.

“I’m Tyler Mann, and I’ll see you on the trail.”

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