Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Killer Of The Outdoors

Dijukno hypothermia aka "exposure" is labeled "The Killer Of The Outdoors" because it has been
established as a major cause of death among outdoor adventurers.  Search And Rescue personnel consider hypothermia to be considered the most potentially important outdoor dangers that is likely to be encountered.

Mild hypothermia should be handled immediately so it doesn't progress into severe hypothermia.  A mildly hypothermic person with a core temperature of 91-97 Deg. F may show the following six signs:

1.   Complains of feeling cold with extremities showing "goose bumps."

2.   Frequently wet from rain, snow, or other sources.

3.   Shivering to some extent, which may get more intense; this may be unapparent while walking.

4.   As hypothermia progresses, the person may develop problems with muscular coordination, most
      often beginning with clumsiness in detailed hand movements.

5.   An inability to keep up with others in the group, later followed by stumbling and clumsiness.

6.   Approaching 90 Deg. F core temperature, they may have difficulty in speaking, sluggish thinking,
      amnesia, or signs of depression.

As hypothermia becomes severe with core temperatures 90 Deg. F and below, the following signs may become evident:

1.   Shivering may stop completely.

2.   Exposed skin may appear blue or swollen.

3.   Unable to walk, with poor muscular coordination.

4.   Confusion, incoherent, or irrational behavior.  However, the person may be able to maintain
       posture and appearance of psychological contact.

5.   The person may become careless about protecting them self from the environment.

6.   At less than 87 Deg. F core temperature, the muscles become severely rigid.

7.   Semi-conscious, stupor, loss of psychological contact, slow pulse, and respiration's as well as pupil

8.   At less than 83 Deg. F core temperature, unconsciousness, erratic heartbeat and respiration's, the
      pulse may seem absent.

9.   At less than 79 Deg. F core temperature or slightly above, cardiac and respiratory arrests occur.

If a person is unable to protect them self from the cold, understand the situation they are in, or perhaps
unconscious their core is likely below 90 Deg. F, and the situation should be considered an emergency.

Note:  Because hypothermia can mimic death, nobody should be considered dead until they are
          deemed to be warm and dead.

Severe hypothermia is a medical condition that necessitates advanced medical attention as soon as possible.  Do not try to rewarm a victim of severe hypothermia in the field. Evacuate gently as soon as possible, gently removing wet clothes during the process.

Mild hypothermia is treated primarily by preventing further heat loss.  Remove wet clothes, and replace them with dry ones.  Place them in a warm environment such as a tent, near a campfire, in a vehicle, or in a sleeping bag.  Add dry insulation to their clothing, and make them more comfortable.

Prevention of hypothermia is relied upon by reducing heat loss, and increasing heat production, both or either as needed.  Reducing heat loss can be achieved by wearing appropriate layers, proper nutrition, and hydration.  Be aware that caffeine, alcohol, and "downer" types of drugs may promote hypothermia.

Prevention of hypothermia is much easier than the treatment for it.

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