is a lowering of the body's normal temperature. It
is a serious threat to sailors because of the potential for going
overboard. Also, the Great Lakes are
cold lakes – Lake Superior's average summer temperature is 40F/4C. Long hours at the helm can leave a sailor exposed to
spray and wind which can sap the body's heat. Water wicks away body
heat 25 times faster than air.
hypothermia occurs when the body's core temperature falls below
95degF/35 degC. Severe
hypothermia occurs when the body temperature falls below 90F/32C. All
body functions slow down including mental acuity, heart rate, and
the progressive cooling of the body's core is not stopped, the
body steadily begins to shut down, beginning at the extremities –
all in an effort to preserve the core temperature necessary to stay
The 1-10-10 Rule
Speaking about hypothermia, both
the Canadian Coast Guard and US the Coast Guard refer to the 1-10-1
From time of immersion, you have 1 minute to get your breathing
under control. Studies show that 20% don't and therefore die,
breathing in ice-cold water in an uncontrolled panic, gasp, panic and
then drown. In some situations, the sudden immersion into cold water
triggers a cardiac arrest.
The next 10 refers to the 10 minutes of
useable muscle control. Here is where swimming begins to fail.
Without a lifejacket, here is where drowning will likely occur.
final 1 refers to 1 hour before hypothermia sets in. Note that if you
don't have a lifejacket,
you will likely not die of hypothermia as you will already have
in cold water (Man Overboard)
extreme cold, a loss of the ability to shiver
body temperature has fallen to 90F/32C, call for help (VHF 16 MAYDAY)
giving hypothermia treatment, it is important to handle him or her gently.
Limit movements to only those that are necessary. DO
NOT massage or rub the
person. Excessive, vigorous or jarring movements may trigger cardiac
arrest as cold blood is
forced back from the extremities into the heart. For the same reason, DO NOT have the person walk around in an effort to warm up - it sends chilled blood back to the heart and may result in a heart attack.
the person out of the cold
(if possible) to a
warm, dry, sheltered
location. If you're unable
to move the person out of the cold, shield him or her from the cold
and wind as much as possible.
wet clothing. Cut away clothing if
necessary to avoid excessive movement.
the person with blankets.
Use layers of dry blankets or coats to warm the person. Make
sure you also cover the
person's head, leaving only the face exposed.
the person's body from the cold.
If you're outside, lay the person on their
back on a blanket or other warm surface.
person with severe hypothermia may appear unconscious, with no
apparent signs of a pulse or breathing. If the person's breathing
has stopped or appears dangerously low or shallow, begin
cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately.
body heat. To warm
the person's body, remove your clothing and lie next to the person,
making skin-to-skin contact. Then cover both of your bodies with
beverages. If the person suffering from hypothermia is alert and able to swallow, provide a warm,
beverage to help warm the body. The
fuel for the muscles and aids in the body's ability to rewarm itself
warm, dry compresses.
Use a first-aid warm compress (a plastic fluid-filled bag that warms
up when squeezed), or a makeshift compress of warm water in a
plastic bottle, hot water
bottle or a dryer-warmed
towel. Apply a compress only to the neck, chest wall or groin. DO
NOT apply a warm compress
to the arms or legs. Heat applied to the arms and legs forces cold
blood back toward the heart, lungs and brain, causing the core body
temperature to drop. This can be fatal.
direct heat. DO
NOT use hot water, a
heating pad or a heating lamp to warm the person. The extreme heat
can damage the skin or even worse, cause irregular heartbeats so
severe that they can cause the heart to stop.
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