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Thread: hypothermia

  1. #1
    Member fullkurl's Avatar
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    Default hypothermia

    I was mule deer hunting in New Mexico years ago and I sat in a cold, damp draw for about three hours watching for deer. When I got up and hiked up a hill at dark to leave, I fell over and couldn't even walk. I realized that I had I had made a big mistake allowing myself to get so cold and shivering. I was visiting New Mexico from Alaska and never dreamed I'd get that cold there! I thought I was a tough guy! What a joke that is. And I had worn way too few warm clothes for the chilly weather there.

    I remember telling my teenage son (he was with me) what to do if I blacked out. I literally crawled to our camper almost 1/2 mile away, I couldnt stand up. I remember drinking all of the liquid we had with us out in the woods, and I also ate an apple. I figured it would help fuel my body and fight any dehydration.
    It took several hours in our camper with the heaters cranked to 90* to begin to think and move normally.
    It was a wild ride and it really snuck up on me.
    Anybody else have a "chilling" experience? What should one do when confronted with hypothermia? (other than not get that way as I boneheadedly did!)

  2. #2
    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Default Admit a mistake...

    Well, yes. I sat in a treestand from 5 a.m. till 7:30 p.m. one day without getting down. (OK so there was a really big buck in the area and I was desperate) By the time I got back to the truck I was shakeing so hard I could hardly drive. Made it to a gas station about 2 miles away and had a 24 oz. hot chocolate. Ten more miles and another hot chocolate before I even felt warm.
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  3. #3
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    Default Hypothermia

    Lots of good information out there on hypothermia...in the last couple of years, we've learned that what we've been calling hypothermia is more correctly called "cold water immersion effects". (this is more closely related to a boating accident rather than the true hypothermia conditions related by the two previous posts, but relevent nevertheless.) Hypothermia is defined as a drop in body core temperature generally below 90 degrees F. This is the point that shivering (the body's natural warming ability) ceases and you are in real trouble. Cold water immersion effects are very nearly immediate and when you are immersed in cold water, the small blood vessels near the surface constrict and blood pressure usually spikes. Shortly thereafter, numbness in the extremities occurs and you loose the ability to use your fingers, hands, arms and legs; self-rescue often becomes impossible at this point....you can easily imagine the scenario from here....
    If you do rescue a hypothermic victim, handle them very gently and warm them slowly. Seek medical assistance immediately. Many hypothermic victims have been up walking and talking only to fall over dead from cardiac arrest. The stress that cold puts on the heart is tremendous and if you have any heart issues, are very young or very old, hypothermia can be deadly serious. It's easy to see it happening to others and very difficult to recognize it yourself (much like drinking alcohol!) Carbon monoxide is another similar problem in that it's so insidious, that many people don't see it before it's too late. Hypothermia is common almost everywhere and especially in Alaska! It's usually not difficult to avoid, but sometimes warm and dry can be a long hike away. With the new fabrics and clothing available, you can certainly stay afield alot longer. Be safe!

  4. #4
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    Default

    Thanks CG. I was going to post here but you said it all. Unless one has had some training they might not be aware of the issue of carefull transport because of the heart.

    One thing that we do as ski patrol to begin warming someone in the field is to use a few of the pocket hand warmers. The little plastic bag kind you can buy anywhere. Activate them and put them under the armpits, at the kidneys and or at the groin area near the femoral artery. Obviously anyone who is hypothermic needs to get warm. Wet clothing dissipates heat quicker than dry clothing. Hot sweet liquids if possible, etc.

    Proper hydration tends to get overlooked in the cold weather. We can think that if we aren't sweating or feeling thirsty that we don't need to drink. Proper hydration along with food plays a major factor in the body being able to stay warm.

    Stay away from the brandy, rum, etc. It may feel warm going down but alchohol will only make matters worse.
    Last edited by Snyd; 10-27-2006 at 21:26.
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  5. #5
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    Default

    I used to teach skiing. One day I dressed lightly expecting an easy day and ended up covering a couple of beginner group classes for a friend. With such classes you mostly stand around, generating very little heat. I was chilled but didn't think anything of it until I got home. I began vomiting and having uncontrollable shaking spells that were near full-blown convulsions. I ended up in the ER and had a several hour stay that consisted mostly of a long warm bath. I don't remember what my body temperature was but I remember the concern of the ER staff. It never occurred to me what was wrong. I thought I was just sick. I had been out of the cold for well over an hour when the symptoms hit. Fortunately someone was around. I doubt I'd have been capable of taking action to help myself, it was that bad. Sick as a dog doesn't come close. I was sicker than that. Out of control sick. After my body heat came up to normal I was tired and sore, but otherwise fine.

    I had been underdressed and in near zero temps for about 6 hours. The whole time was spent on my feet and moving, although not vigorously.The temperature and the time in it wasn't unusual. I had eaten properly. The key was that I was underdressed. I was just plain cold-soaked, and never felt it coming.

  6. #6
    Member sayak's Avatar
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    Default Tricky stuff

    Years ago, when I was a setnetter on Bristol Bay, I would sit for hours watching the net as the tide went out so I could pick fish. Often the days were cold and windy, and I would get soaked to the skin in spite of rain gear. Let me tell you, it doesn't have to be freezing or below to get chilled to the point of becoming hypothermic. I remember after a prolonged period of sitting and shivering, I got up to go check the net and keeled over. My mind was unclear, and I even was feeling somewhat euphoric. Having taught survival skills in school, I recognized the symptoms and managed to 4-wheeler myself up to my cabin where I wrapped stripped off my rain gear and clothes, wrapped up in a sleeping bag and downed hot coffee. Eventually I warmed up enough to go back and pick fish (I hate seagulls!), but it was scarey, because I was young and fit.
    After that I have always made sure that I stayed moving when I felt myself becoming chilled, and have found that nothing warms me up as fast as hot chocolate from the thermos.
    As a side note, the old time Eskimos always carried seal oil with them in case they fell through the ice, because seal oil is like pure liquid energy. I used to steal some from my wife to take on hunting trips, but never had to use it! I wonder if there is anything like it for general consumption.

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