Hypothermia is considered as a serious condition that can be life-threatening if left untreated. There are various misconceptions when it comes to this condition which includes the notion that it only occurs when an individual is exposed to freezing conditions. Nevertheless, hypothermia can be triggered by dampness caused by wind chill and under normal conditions often cause mild discomfort. For those who love to hike in remote areas, these can pose a risk.
Symptoms of hypothermia
It is important that you are familiar with the symptoms of hypothermia. The early symptoms can be mild and can go unnoticed. It includes shivering, slowed breathing, loss of coordination, drowsiness, pale skin and confusion. In the late stages or severe cases, the shivering can stop once the core temperature drops.
When hiking in a group, you should observe the other members. An individual suffering from hypothermia might not be aware of the symptoms, especially in the late stages. Due to this, be on the lookout for indications such as stumbling, poor judgment, slowed speech, dilation of the pupils and amnesia. These are signs of advanced hypothermia and if left untreated, the individual can go into the state of shock, coma and even death.
Appropriate rain gear when hiking
Always bring the suitable rain paraphernalia even for a day hike. Appropriate rain gear has always been a requirement for extensive hikes but often left behind for short hikes. It is a known fact that an individual will lose body heat at a faster rate when he/she is wet than dry. Obviously, this will increase the risk of hypothermia and can result to the rapid development of the symptoms.
When hiking in the wilderness at high elevation, a sudden rain shower is usually followed by an abrupt drop in the temperature. The cool temperature, wind and dampness are factors that can bring about rapid hypothermia.
Survival kit is essential
For those who love to hike in the wilderness, it is vital to bring along a small survival kit that includes items that can be used to start a fire. If the core temperature of the body drops too low, the individual requires an external source of heat in order to recover. As a first aid measure, you have to dry the individual by taking off the wet clothes and wrap him/her in layers of clothing or a heavy blanket and then position him/her close to a heat source. If a fire is not possible, huddling with others can also help recover the lost body heat.
When to seek medical care
It is imperative to seek medical care if the individual starts to turn blue in color, has difficulty articulating words, no longer shivers or has an irregular or slow pulse rate. These indicate severe hypothermia and it requires immediate treatment. Unless the destination is just nearby, do not continue the hike. You have to stop and provide the appropriate measures as quickly as possible.