Like I mentioned last week, I wanted to write about some basic first aid issues and today’s topic is hypothermia (freezing). Since its effects can happen to us almost anywhere this might be good to read, share with a friend, etc.
Hypothermia is when the core body temperature begins to cool down. There are three stages in hypothermia; mild, moderate and severe. Most of us have probably experience mild hypothermia. In this state our body temperature has dropped to between the temperatures of 95-90 degrees (Fahrenheit). That’s when we shiver and our fingers become stiff and it’s hard to do things. The basic solution to this is get to someplace warm. Other things to do are eat high calorie foods, mild exercise, and adding warmer layers of clothing and removing any wet articles of clothing.
As for moderate and severe hypothermia, the moment they begin to come into play is when things become a little more dangerous. I have only experienced moderate hypothermia once in my life. I was about 16 years old and I was on a dear hunt with my dad and we drove over this cattle guard at a rather high speed. What we did not see was the large hole on the other side of the cattle guard, so when our truck hit it, we lost our heater core. And when you lose your heater core, you lose the heating to your vehicle. So lets say things got cold.
When I got home I hopped into a hot shower but I remember just sitting there shivering. No matter how long I sat there in hot water I still felt cold. And that is one of the signs to moderate hypothermia along with stiffness, slurred speech, decreased levels of awareness. As things borderline severe hypothermia the individual may even begin the think they are hot and take off clothing to “cool down.”
Treatment would be to warm them up. Do a body wrap, which is to put them in a sleeping bag, then wrap that sleeping bag in emergency blankets like a burrito and then evacuate the individual. Also keep the person from sitting or standing up this will keep them from falling and hurting themselves. Lay them down. Keep the individual off direct contact with the ground because it will pull the hear away from their body so put them on a blanket or pad.
When an individual becomes severely hypothermic they may appear to be dead but remember this “they are not dead till they are warm and dead.” So take the same measures to warm the individual up and evacuate the person as quick as you can. You may even hop into the sleeping bag with the person to help warm them up.
A myth that goes along with getting into the sleeping bag with someone to warm them up is having to strip down. You really don’t have to do this, you can still be wearing a shirt and even a sweater. Your body will transfer enough heat to the other person without having skin to skin contact.
So those are some basic tips to dealing with Hypothermia. This information comes from the Remote Medical International hand book that is given to you when you take the first aid course. Also if you have questions, ask.