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Backpacker Magazine – BACKPACKER.com Online Exclusive

Hypothermia 101

As the temperature dips, hypothermia can threaten survival for backwoods adventurers unaware of its warning signs.

by: BACKPACKER Editors

PAGE 1 2 3

Hypothermia is an abnormally low body-core temperature caused by exposure to a cold environment.

How to Recognize Hypothermia

  Mild Hypothermia
When core body temperature drops below 95ºF, mild hypothermia sets in.

  • Person feels cold and shivers at maximum level.
  • Person maintains normal consciousness level, remains alert, and has normal or slightly impaired coordination.
  • When core body temperature drops below 93ºF, the person develops slurred speech, memory loss, poor judgment, and carelessness.

  Mild Hypothermia Treatment

  1. Move the person from the cold environment to a sheltered environment.
  2. Replace any wet clothing with dry, insulated garments.
  3. Give the person warm food and lots of sugary hot fluids (an average-size adult needs about 60 kilocalories of hot drinks or about 2 quarts of highly sugary liquids such as drink mixes) to elevate core temperature 10 F.
  4. Slow heat loss by wrapping the person in a sleeping bag, plastic bag, or tarp. Huddling with the person in a sleeping bag will help slow heat loss.
  5. Resist the urge to use hot water bottles or heat packs. They can turn off the body's shivering mechanism, and they add very little heat to the body core. Instead, bring water to a boil and have the person inhale the steam, or build a fire.


PAGE 1 2 3

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