Did you know that even during the spring and summer in the Deep South hypothermia is still a safety concern? Hypothermia is a condition that exists when body temperature drops below 95 degrees. This can be caused by water or
Did you know that even during the spring and summer in the Deep South hypothermia is still a safety concern? Hypothermia is a condition that exists when body temperature drops below 95 degrees. This can be caused by water or air exposure. And the body can cool down 25 times faster in cold water than air. Water temperature, body fat, body size and movement all play a part in how quickly the body’s temperature drops.
Recreational boaters and fishermen in the warmer climates mistakenly think that hypothermia is not an issue to be concerned about. Even with water temperatures at 70 degrees, a person can suffer from hypothermia if he/she cannot extract themselves or be extracted from the water. Even hitting a wave full on and getting wet in your boat can be a factor in hypothermia.
Personal floatation device’s can do more than just keep your head above water, they can also enable a person to reduce the exertion required to stay afloat, thus conserving on body heat. Most styles of PFD’s can actually help with holding in body heat. Wearing your life jacket is the first line of defense against Hypothermia.
The symptoms of hypothermia are diverse and some are more readily apparent than others. A person may feel cold and shiver, sometimes violently. This would be in the early stages of hypothermia, as it progresses a person may lose some muscle control, slur their speech, become disoriented or sleepy and even stop shivering. If left untreated, the person will eventually lose consciousness and eventually die.
Treating hypothermia can be as simple as removing a person to a warm place, having them put on warm clothes, cover the head, and give warm drinks (no alcohol or caffeine). If a person becomes drowsy, stop giving them liquids. Always seek medical attention.
Some things to do to be proactive would be to wear your PFD while on the water, have a change of clothing in a plastic bag, and have a whistle attached to your life jacket as the noise will carry much farther than your voice. Be aware of your boats capabilities and your own limitations. Tell someone where you are launching from and when you will be back. Ensure all safety equipment is working, i.e. bilge pumps. Have something to bail water with if needed.
Just because there isn’t ice on the water and you live in one of the sunshine states doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about exposure to the elements. By taking a few simple precautions you can ensure you survive a possibly dangerous situation.
Garry A. McCollum (aka “iClass”)