Winter Storm Informaton


| Share

Stalled... But Safe


Hypothermia is the number one killer of many outdoor sports enthusiasts. It has often been called "The Killer of The Unprepared."


Hypothermia is a condition where the body temperature, or core temperature, is lowered too much. The blood has cooled down, and the oxygen carried to the brain has been reduced, dulling the senses. The victim is fatigued, delirious, and loses the dexterity of the arms and legs. When the body's core temperature continues to drop and nears 85 degrees F, the victim will slip into unconsciousness. Treatment must be started immediately to prevent failure of the heart and lungs, and possibly death.

Symptoms of hypothermia are fairly easy to identify and treatment is effective if done promptly. Don't wait!

  • Uncontrollable shivering is one of the most obvious, early signs of hypothermia.
  • As the situation continues to worsen, the victim becomes clumsy, loses dexterity of the limbs, loses reasoning and memory, goes into muscular rigidity and death follows very soon.
  • The symptoms are very difficult or impossible to diagnose on yourself because of delirium and loss of the ability to think clearly or at all.
  • The loss of body heat must be reversed.

Treatment of Hypothermia

  • Prevent further heat loss. Get the victim out of wet or cold clothes; they will significantly slow the warming process. Put the unclothed victim in a sleeping bag with one or two other unclothed persons. Their body heat will transfer quickly to the victim, raising the body temperature.
  • You must add heat to the body in most cases of hypothermia. If the victim is conscious and able, feed warm drinks. But no alcoholic beverages! Place a scarf over the victims mouth to warm the inhaled air. The victim cannot produce enough heat to return to normal body temperature, so heat must be added.
  • Treat the victim very gently! Do not massage or rub down the victim, it may cause tissue damage. Jostling the victim can cause heart stoppage in severe cases.
  • Minimize any movement of the victim. The energy reserves of the victim have nearly been used up and must be conserved for body heat. The victim will be nearly in shock and further activity can bring on shock. Activity could bring on cardiac arrest due to the colder blood cooling the heart.

Prevention of Hypothermia

The best way to prevent hypothermia is to stay warm and dry with the proper combination of preparation, clothing, food, and exercise to maintain good circulation.

Persons trapped in a blizzard should sleep with caution. You have a lower metabolic rate when you sleep so you produce less body heat. Some sleep is necessary, but do not remain idle and sleeping for long periods of time. Stretch and exercise periodically to maintain circulation.

Eating before sleeping will help to maintain body heat. Avoid medications that may induce sleep.

If you are not alone, take turns sleeping for short spells of time. There must always be someone awake in the car to watch the storm conditions, listen for weather forecasts, maintain emergency heating efforts, and respond to rescuers.

Filed under: Winter Storm, Disaster, Winter
Creative Commons License
Feel free to use and share this content, but please do so under the conditions of our Creative Commons license and our Rules for Use. Thanks.