How to Avoid Hypothermia
As the temperatures are dropping, I am reminded that we are fast approaching the cold winter months. So, we must dust off our bulky coats and start to gear up for a season of safe fun. Fluffy white snow and cold temperatures offer up an environment of cheer for the kiddos and often dreaded work for us adults! I don’t know about you, but I hate shoveling snow! Frigid climates demand us to be strategic in order to keep our families safe during fun or work. I have compiled a few reminders for those living in areas that get bitter cold to help prevent any emergencies. Remember that planning becomes especially important for individuals with health problems.
Chilling temperatures require dressing to wick away moisture while promoting an optimal body temperature. Dressing in a thin wick base layer with additional layers easily accomplishes this task. Moreover, the wicking material keeps your skin dry and prevents hypothermia. Most base layers need to fit well… like a glove. My husband raves about the performance outdoor gear such as Patagonia Capilene and Mountain Hardware that he currently sports as a base layer. After the base layer, you can add additional clothing to promote warmth. Equally important as your base layer clothing, a well fitted pair of gloves and boots that provides warmth. Extreme cold can wreak havoc on digits that go unprotected. Most importantly, wear a hat because you lose an enormous amount of heat just from your head!
Working or playing in a cold climate requires frequent breaks. Taking time to rest will prevent stress on your body. If you can, avoid excessive sweating in cold temperatures because this leads to loss of fluids and body heat. Prior to any activity increase your hydration and consume smaller more frequent meals to ensure adequate health. For the adults enjoying the cold temperatures, avoid alcohol to prevent dehydration, and additional strain. If you just can’t help yourself and enjoy a shot of Schnapps during your outdoor play, remember that alcohol causes vasodilatation in which may make you feel warmer than you truly are! Almost every nurse has experienced that one patient who entertained the idea of heavy drinking and jogging the block naked during a cold snowy night. Although it seemed like a good idea at the time, this is the person who gets brought to the hospital by ambulance or police with hypothermia. Not a good idea.
Hypothermia often goes missed because lack of self awareness occurs with confusion from… hypothermia. One of the earliest signs is a constant shiver. Your body shivers to promote warmth. If you remember only one thing from this blog, shivering means you need to warm up that booty up. A person with hypothermia might become clumsy, confused, and dizzy. They will exhibit bright red skin, shallow breathing, fatigue, and lethargy. If you encounter any one with hypothermia, remove all their wet clothing and apply layers of warm blankets. While the person is being warmed, call 911 for help.
Since various medical conditions can affect one’s ability to gauge or regulate their body temperature, I have listed these conditions out: Heart disease, Hypothyroid, Diabetes, Parkinson’s, malnutrition, stroke history can lead to a decrease in thermal regulation awareness. Furthermore, any individual with health problems should take additional steps to promote safe activity. These include assistance with shoveling snow, frequent breaks, and stopping to recognize your bodies warning signs. So, make the best of the cold temperatures (if that is possible) and have fun