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Backpacker Magazine – BACKPACKER.com Online Exclusive

Hypothermia: Just The Facts

Quick Tips to Prevent, Recognize, and Treat Hypothermia.

by: BACKPACKER Editors


Hypothermia: an abnormally low body-core temperature.

Prevention:

  • Wear protective clothing: hat and scarf/neck gaiter.
  • Insulate yourself from the ground.
  • Wear wind-proof clothing (in emergency, use a garbage bag or a pack); seek shelter
  • Wear vapor barrier lining under clothes. Breathe through scarf/face mask.

Recognition: Signs of Mild Hypothermia

  • Feels cold and shivers at maximum level
  • Normal consciousness level, alert, normal or slightly impaired coordination
  • Slurred speech, memory loss, poor judgment, carelessness

Treatment: Mild Hypothermia

  1. Move person to sheltered environment
  2. Replace wet clothing with dry, insulated garments
  3. Give warm food and lots of sugary hot fluids
  4. Wrap person in sleeping bag, plastic bag, or tarp. Huddle with person in sleeping bag.
  5. Don't use heat packs/hot water bottles. Boil water so person can inhale steam; build a fire

Recognition: Signs of Profound Hypothermia

  • Weak and lethargic
  • Disoriented, confused, combative or irrational, or in a coma
  • Lack of coordination
  • Eventually, person stops shivering
  • Eventually, pulse and breathing are half their normal rates

    Treatment: Profound Hypothermia:

    1. Handle person very gently
    2. Surround with sleeping bag, blankets or clothing
    3. Do not allow to eat or drink (potential for choking or vomiting)
    4. Get the person to a hospital



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