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Hypothermia - OutdoorPlaces.Com

 Hypothermia Guide


Impending hypothermia is brought on when the body temperature is from 96.0° degrees F to 97° degrees F.  Most people are aware that they are cold and will take steps to warm themselves up.  Shivering will start to begin but it can be controlled with activity.  Muscles will tense up; hands and feet can begin to feel stiff.  The victim will start to feel fatigued and slightly weak.  The skin can become pale, could feel numb and/or waxy.

When mild hypothermia has set in the victim’s core temperature has dropped to a range of 95° degrees F to 96° degrees F.  Uncontrolled, intense shivering takes over the body.  As with all of the other conditions of impending hypothermia the muscles can be quite stiff, and movement of the joints can become uncomfortable.  The victim is typically alert but will suffer from a loss of coordination.  Most hypothermia victims are very difficult to deal with; denial of the condition is quite common which is why it is such a killer.  If you are someone in your party is experiencing these symptoms they need help.

Moderate hypothermia takes over when the core temperature is in a range from 93° degrees F to 95° degrees F.  Shivering slows down.  This is because the blood vessels have become so restricted in it's effort to prevent loss through circulation.  Movement is very uncomfortable.  The victim can appear drunk with slowed slurred speech, poor coordination and a lack of balance.  Confusion, apathy, and an inability to make proper decisions set in.  As the temperature moves to 93° degrees F breathing may become shallow, drowsiness or a euphoric urge to sleep will start to set in.  As above victims of hypothermia are very difficult to deal with.  Victims in this state have been known to plead to be left alone and allowed to go to sleep.  You need to ignore these pleas; anyone in this state needs professional medical attention immediately.

Severe or extreme hypothermia is when the core temperature sinks below 93° degrees F.  The victim is completely exhausted, has no strength, they want nothing more than to go to sleep and may become unconscious.  The victim will appear completely drunk with no coordination and may not be able to walk, the body may become rigid, and speech is very slurred.  The skin will appear blue or even gray in color and will be cold.  As unconsciousness sets in the pupils will become dilated.  A victim in this state of hypothermia can be almost combative and will typically deny there is any problem.  As unconsciousness sets in there can be very little breathing, or shallow breathing, the victim can appear dead.  The key to survival for a victim in this condition is getting them to a medical facility where they can be properly warmed.  They should not be warmed in the field.  Improper warming of a person with severe hypothermia can cause serious medical problems during the process that can result in heart failure.

When looking for the warning signs of hypothermia, you need to be alert for complaining of being profoundly cold, confusion, sleepiness, slurred speech, unusual behavior including denial and apathy, shallow breathing, or a lack of coordination.  Ideally if you can take a body temperature with a thermometer, a standard thermometer will not be able to indicate a body temperature (the final gradient is typically 96° degrees F.) on someone suffering from hypothermia.

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