Friday, February 8, 2013
If you're like me, and I know I am, I shudder at the thought of freezing to death.
Bad pun aside, the human body operates best when its internal temperature ranges between 98 and 100-degrees F. The body starts to lose function when its internal temperature falls below 96-degrees F. Hypothermia is a bitch.
News of the blizzard expected to hit the northeast U.S. this afternoon brought hypothermia warnings to the fore. Hypothermia is easily avoided for most. Avoid the cold. Dress warmly in layers. Pay your heating bill. Be alert for signs of hypothermia.
Wikipedia -- you can always trust Wikipedia -- lists mild, moderate and severe hypothermia symptoms. At its mildest, hypothermia can cause involuntary shivers and mental confusion. At worst, hypothermia causes loss of muscle coordination, decreases in heart and breathing rate, blood pressure and can cause hypoglycemia.
The Power Squadrons is a boating civic & safety group. We are concerned with captains and crew who fall from the boat into cold water. This 2007 story at The Ensign is a dandy piece on hypothermia safety for boaters. It includes a chart that show survival times based on water temperature. If you fall into 32.5-degree water, you've got 15 to 45 minutes to get the heck out.
A second chart lists survival rates in 50-degree water with and without flotation devices. A life vest keeps you warmer as well as afloat. That's why the Coast Guard has become a doggone pest about wearing one all the time.
By the way, boaters, alcohol won't keep you warm in cold water. Instead, it speeds up hypothermia's effect. Save the drinkin' for the dock party.
Hypothermia is best avoided. If you must run the risk on land or on the water, be ready.
Image found on kayakquixotica.com, which also pointed me to this 10-minute NASBLA video on surviving hypothermia in the water.
Coroner: Woman suffers hypothermia, drowns after swimming in 45-degree water.