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How can I recognize symptoms of hypothermia on myself and other people I camp with?

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2 Answers 2

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Here are the basic signs of Hypothermia

  • Shivering. May start off mildly and go severe
  • General apathy and sudden exhaustion
  • Losing coordination (can't tie a knot, etc)
  • Loss of concentration
  • Sudden irrational behavior
  • Unable to speak correctly (slurred speech, dropping words)

Edit per comments

  • Final stages: Shivering can stop and subject can feel too warm and removing clothing
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    I've found that you can catch the apathy (usually they stop joining in on conversation), loss of co-ordination and concentration as pretty good indicators before shivering - make them eat something (a chocolate bar or something energy-packed) and, if possible, get another layer on them - keep an eye on them in case they progress further, but everyone I've done this with has bounced back enough to get them off the hill and into a warm hostel.
    – HorusKol
    Jan 25, 2012 at 9:58
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    Summed up by saying to watch for the "-umbles": stumble, mumble, fumble.
    – Lost
    Jan 25, 2012 at 10:13
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    Also worth pointing out that in the final stages the shivering can stop and the subject can feel too warm and start tearing off clothes - don't assume it's a good sign if shivering stops!
    – berry120
    Jan 25, 2012 at 17:06
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    Precursors: Goosebumps, Blue lips/hands
    – Shawn
    Jan 28, 2012 at 20:17
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Please realize that there are various stages of hypothermia -- ranging from feeling very chilly all the way to death -- and the core body temperature is generally lower and lower at each stage. The following is from northshorerescue.com/education/treating-hypothermia. The values are in Celsius. The article has a longer description of each stage.

The international commission on alpine rescue classifies hypothermia into five stages based on core body temperature. Each stage can also be differentiated by clinical findings in the field when core temperature reading may not be available.

HT I: Mild Hypothermia, 32-35 degrees Normal or near normal consciousness, shivering

HT II: Moderate Hypothermia, 28-32 degrees Shivering stops, consciousness becomes impaired

HT III: Severe Hypothermia, 24-28 degrees Unconscious, may be difficult to detect vital signs

HT IV: Apparent Death, 15-24 degrees

HT V: Death from irreversible hypothermia

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