Murray tried to go skiing at Sunshine Village on Monday and it was so cold that they were not letting people onto the hill.  He went to Mount Norquay instead and skied for a couple of hours.  It was very cold (-25 C) outside and by the time he stopped skiing and got his boots off, he was quite chilled.

When he got to Canmore, he changed into some warm clothes, had a cold drink as he was thirsty and then climbed into bed to get warm.  A couple of hours later, after a long snooze, he got up but was still cold.

We are now wondering whether he had a mild case of hypothermia.  I checked my favorite medical website ( http://www.mayoclinic.com ) to see what it said about hypothermia.  The symptoms of moderate to severe hypothermia, as listed on the Mayo Clinic website are:

  • Shivering
  • Clumsiness or lack of coordination
  • Slurred speech or mumbling
  • Stumbling
  • Confusion or difficulty thinking
  • Poor decision making, such as trying to remove warm clothes
  • Drowsiness or very low energy
  • Apathy or lack of concern about one’s condition
  • Progressive loss of consciousness
  • Weak pulse
  • Slow, shallow breathing

The website also lists the following as symptoms of mild hypothermia:

  • Shivering
  • Faster breathing
  • Trouble speaking
  • Confusion
  • Lack of coordination
  • Fatigue
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure

After reading the list for mild hypothermia, the only symptom I know he had was the fatigue. So, I am not sure if in fact he had hypothermia, but if this happens again I will be cautious and treat it as mild hypothermia.  To warm someone up use warm clothes, blankets, a toque to cover the head, hot drinks, some snuggling to share body heat and be sure to monitor his/her condition.

Anyone participating in winter outdoor activities should be aware of the symptoms of hypothermia and how to treat them. Even summer activities – I have a friend that had hypothermia from swimming in lake with a wetsuit on for too long.

Prevention of hypothermia is done through proper clothing for the temperature and wind.  Use layers and try not to over dress as this will cause excess sweating and staying dry is key.  If you sweat during the activity, be sure to have warm dry clothes to change into right away and have a hot drink in a thermos waiting for you.

As we are not experts, please review the many websites that discuss hypothermia and its symptoms, treatments and preventions.  I know I will pay attention in the future now that I know more.

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