Thursday, October 3, 2013

Immersion Hypothermia - Death at Fifty Degrees

There are two basic types of hypothermia that can cause distinct problems in a survival scenario. While exposure hypothermia is the type most people are familiar with, immersion hypothermia can be just as deadly, if not more so. This is because the heat loss from your body is 25 times as great when you are wet. It also doesn't need to be freezing cold outside because it only takes a drop of about twenty degrees in your core body temperature to bring on the first stages of hypothermia.

With fall weather approaching, many streams, rivers and lakes will become considerably cooler and pose a greater risk of hypothermia. Should you find yourself in a position where you should accidentally slip or fall into a body of water that is much cooler than the ambient temperature of the air, you may expose yourself to the risks of hypothermia. Water temperatures of fifty degrees Fahrenheit can quickly put you in a situation where hypothermia may become a very real problem.

When hiking or trekking through wilderness areas, make sure you cross rivers and streams in a safe manner so as to avoid accidentally becoming soaked. Remember also that as little as two feet of swiftly moving water can cause you to lose your footing and get swept away in the current. Some of the other effects of immersion hypothermia are the initial “cold shock” and the failure of muscles in your extremities which can hamper your efforts to swim or remove yourself from the water. Loss of consciousness can soon follow.

If you do become soaked, you need to keep your head above water and get out of the water as soon as possible and start or begin efforts focused on warming your body to raise its core temperature. One of the most immediate dangers of immersion hypothermia is the possibility of drowning. As your body starts to shut down from the effects of hypothermia, there is a real possibility that you could lose consciousness and end up drowning. You can use hand or foot warmers placed in vital body areas such as the neck and shoulders, arm pits and groin area to help speed up the warming process. Your efforts should be focused in increasing your body’s core temperature first.

Using “H. E. L. P,” or the Heat Escape Lessening Posture can also help return your body’s core temperature to more normal levels.   To assume the HELP position, cross your legs so they touch each other as much as possible. Then pull your knees toward your chest, and cross your arms tightly over your chest. The main idea is to assume a posture that allows as much of your body to touch other parts of your body. This will help you retain as much body warmth as possible.

Always try to avoid circumstances that may put you at risk. Even on a relatively warm day the possibility of immersion hypothermia is a very real danger,

Got warming posture?

Staying above the water line!



vlad said...

Put on your knit cap, space blanket and hooded poncho over your wet clothes so the wind will not chill you.
Take off shirt. Wring it as dry as possible.Put your shirt on. Same with the pants.
If possible dig a Dakota fire pit.

If you do not carry cap, gloves space blanket and hooded poncho, and don't know
what Dakota fire pit is you may die of hypothermia. Too bad you did not read my comments. RIP.

Anonymous said...

I've also read that the shock of jumping into cold water can literally make you pass out and if no one is nearby, can actually drown.

Thank you for the tips sir - have a great weekend.

vlad said...

Ziplock makes bags as big as 20"x24". Gear in baggies in your pack stays dry even if you fall into the creek.

I placed Refrig-A- Wear parka and insulated bib in baggies, turned the coffee table upside down on the bags, pressed the air out and closed the bags.

BTW if you fall in and it is cold, take off one boot, wring the sock dry, put them back on, then do the other foot.

In SERE nap with packstrap on one arm and rifle sling on the other. That's best if you have to suddenly unass the area.

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