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Hypothermia Empty Hypothermia

Post  Paleolithic on Thu Jan 17, 2013 5:01 pm

It does NOT have to be the middle of winter to get hypothermia. You can become hypothermic in the the middle of summer if certain conditions are met and then die. All it takes is a 2 degree Fahrenheit drop in core body temperature and you are toast, or maybe an ice cube…

First off I will quote wikipedia as to what hypothermia is:
“Hypothermia is a condition in which core temperature drops below that required for normal metabolism and body functions which is defined as 35.0 °C (95.0 °F). Body temperature is usually maintained near a constant level of 36.5–37.5 °C (98–100 °F) through biologic homeostasis or thermoregulation. If exposed to cold and the internal mechanisms are unable to replenish the heat that is being lost a drop in core temperature occurs. As body temperature decreases characteristic symptoms occur such as shivering and mental confusion.

Hypothermia is the opposite of hyperthermia which is present in heat exhaustion and heat stroke.”

The following is from my notes I took from my WFR certification course.

some info on body temps

The human core temperature is happy around 98.6 degrees (in Fahrenheit from here on out)

The functional extremes of the human body are 97 degrees to 104 degrees

The life extremes are 90 degrees to 107 degrees. Bad news bears.

Ways we lose heat

We lose heat through a few basic ways. Evaporation, radiation, conduction, and convection

How our bodies save heat
To save heat our bodies will stop sweating, vasoconstriction will occur (the blood vessels tighten up and keep blood closer to the core. This is also why alcohol is a BAD idea in cold environments as it is a vasodiolater meaning the blood vessels expand and allow the blood to be farther away from your core and allow faster cooling)

We produce heat through mechanisms such as shivering, exercise (being muscle movement to create heat) metabolic activity, and basal metabolism (which is converting chemical energy into heat)

Stages of hypothermia
98.6 Normal

97degrees one will begin to experience brain function slowing, poor judgment, withdrawn

96 degrees one will shiver uncontrollably, decreased ability to talk and use hands

94 degrees coordination fails.

92 degrees unable to walk

90 degrees convulsive shivering, talking is slurred

86 degrees unconscious and may vital signs may be very weak.

Trying to save the poor fella’
You have to remove the victim from immediate danger and exposure to the environment.

You MUST get the victim dry and keep them dry, this will probably mean removing their clothes. Always a good idea to have some trauma shears in your first aid kit.

Next is to insulate the victim with dry material. KEEP IT DRY! It’s hard to keep snow out of the darn sleeping bag and tarp when you’re in the field but many times this may be your only option. Remember Snow is like poop, you don’t want it with or on your victim, in the sleeping bag in the tarp, in the insulating material. It gets everywhere and you want to keep it away. Insulation is insulation is insulation. Snow will be insulated along with your buddy you’re trying to save, will only cause more problems so keep the “poop” out the best you can when re-insulating.

One of the most important things is to keep them off the ground. The foam pads work great, thermarests are ok. If they’re on the ground directly they are just going to keep losing heat. It will help too, to protect the head and feet with extra insulation if you’re able to.

Keep the wind off them. Get a trap over them, a poncho, a tent, what ever you can do to keep the wind off of them.

If they’re still conscious it’s a good idea to get super sweet fluids in warm water, so just dump all your darn sugar packets into some warm water and get it to them. Jell-o apparently is a good one too. Not do this if they’re not conscious.

It will be a good idea to add some heat sources NOT DIRECTLY TO THE SKIN but on the outside of what you’ve wrapped them up in maybe in a sock or a spare t-shirt and place them near feet, arm pits, or hands. Hand warmers, etc.

Some side notes
You CAN get sun burned in the winter too. If it heats up to 50 degrees after it has been 20 and below all winter (you other northerners probably know what I’m talking about) and you hike without a shirt or much protection from the sun you can and probably will get sun burned. This will increase your chances of hypothermia because it decreases your ability to regulate body temperature. You’ve “damaged the integrity of your integument system”
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Join date : 2013-01-17
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