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How to fight hypothermia


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Old 05-08-2014, 10:42 AM   #11
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Its a scary condition especially when you realize its not just a thing that happens in NY in February. Our bodies are amazing environmental engines but dangerous extremes are less extreme than we might guess. Think about it, 98.6 your body is perfect, a few degrees higher and your nearly dead, a few degrees colder, same thing! The balance can be upset much more easily than we would imagine. Although Ive had frostbite and chilblain, Ive never reached a point of hypothermia even living in the North East my entire life and training in Fort Drum in the middle of the winter every year.


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US Army Public Health Command lists these symptoms----
1-- Vigorous shivering is typically present. Shivering may decrease or cease as core temperature continues to fall.
2-- Onset of hypothermia is typically associated with the so-called “umbles”, the grumbles, mumbles, stumbles and fumbles that increase as cold affects muscle and nerve function.
3-- Symptoms of hypothermia consist of confusion, sleepiness, slurred speech, shallow breathing, weak pulse, low blood pressure, change in behavior and/or poor control over body movements/slow reactions.
A healthy body is not as prone to Hypothermia but not exempt either. Our engines need fuel and hydration to create heat, when they run low, so does the heat. Nearing Hypothermia can be halted by early detection and reversed by exercise, nourishment and hydration. Once the signs begin, your on borrowed time unless you can get your motor running and fast!

Fight the cold by being prepared for it first, like others have said layers and materials that wick away sweat and dont absorb it are key to sustained exposure. More folks get hot and cold weather injuries when they didnt expect they could happen. Elderly and children with dementia or developmental disabilities that get disoriented and lost, Car breaks down, rapid weather changes while out for a short bike or hike or injuries sustained prior to hypothermia that immobilize you away from assistance are far more common than a prepared hunter getting lost and becoming Hypothermic.

My wife and I keep a good blanket in our vehicles year round, I used mine last winter when my thermostat stuck closed on my PU last winter 4 miles down the road from home, it was 20 below and 7:00 in the morning! I wasnt in danger cause I had a cellphone and could have called for help if I needed it or just flagged down a car. The cheap stubborn German in me made me wrap up in the blanket, hold on and try starting it every 10 or 15 minutes and wait for the heat of the engine block to pop the thermostat open. About half an hour later, I heard a little ping, pop and trickle as the fluid started circulating through the system. 2 minutes later there was heat! Then my blood started circulating and all the sudden, life was good. If I hadnt had the blanket, gloves and a little patience, I would have been regretting that "should have been a 10 minute drive" in big ways.

Boy Scouts say "Be Prepared" for a reason.
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Old 05-08-2014, 03:53 PM   #12
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I spent 8 years in an SF Unit which specialized in winter warfare and the most miserable nights I have ever spent in my life was training with them 'freezing'.
One of the little tricks I used was to keep a squeeze tube of honey on me (close enough so my body heat kept it liquid) and when I could feel hypothermia setting in (uncontrollable shivering) I would take a mouth full of honey and wash it down with a long drink of water. In about a minute I could feel the 'warmth' spreading though my body. This accomplished two things which are REQUIRED to fight hypothermia, one the 'energy' needed to produce the heat in the muscles and to keep me hydrated.
Hope this helped.
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Old 05-08-2014, 05:44 PM   #13
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The worst part of hypothermia is that you lose the ability to think rationally. You wont realize what is happening and you will make mistakes that can make things a lot worse. I saw one young fit guy that could not get back on his jet ski. His buddies were just laughing at him until I told them what was going on. Then they helped him and got him onto a boat where they took care of him. All the time he was insisting he was OK. I was in a kayak so there was not much else I could do.
Tahoe is a very dangerous place for hypothermia. The water rarely gets over 50 degrees and it does not take long to get in serious trouble. Fat people stand a better chance than slim people. 6 percent body fat is not your friend in cold water.
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Old 05-08-2014, 06:17 PM   #14
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That is why I referred to 'shivering uncontrollably' as the time to do something, because at that point you can still think straight and are physically able to take action.
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Old 05-08-2014, 07:13 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimRau View Post
That is why I referred to 'shivering uncontrollably' as the time to do something, because at that point you can still think straight and are physically able to take action.
The mental effects will kick in before you start shivering uncontrollably. I have seen it and I know a couple that almost died because of it.
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Old 05-08-2014, 09:35 PM   #16
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2 of the biggest places that you'll loose body heat from is the head and the "private parts" if that's any help to you.
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Old 05-09-2014, 12:28 AM   #17
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So now I see how dangerous this condition is. Though I've heard about this thing before but didn't really mind it. Thanks to all for the informative and helpful answers
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Old 05-09-2014, 12:49 AM   #18
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IIRC, one way to also fight hypothermia is with food. food equals calories and calories equal internal heat.
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Old 05-09-2014, 01:56 AM   #19
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a lot of folks like to drink alcohol at some point on hunting trips. alcohol consumption will speed up hypothermia by many orders of magnitude. the feeling of warmth you get when you drink is your circulatory system sending a lot of blood to the skin.

its why habitual drunks have ruddy cheeks, reddish skin, swollen noses and ears, its from blood forced to the skin over and over at higher pressure bursting capillaries.

in terms of the cold your skin is how you cool, when blood is at the skin ambient air cools it. it is then returned very cold to be warmed by core organs cooling them. the cucle repeats and you freeze to death.

do not drink alcohol before during or after exposure to prolonged cold temperatures.

smoking and tobacco consumption has a similar but lesser effect.

if your out of water do not eat snow. put snow in a container and put it in a inside pocket allowing external body heat to melt it not your core.
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Old 05-09-2014, 02:41 AM   #20
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a lot of people also don't realize that dehydration occurs in cold temperatures as well as it does in hot temperatures. just because it's cold doesn't mean you're not sweating and need to rehydrate.
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