Episode 12 of NWMA Weekly: Recognizing the Stages of Hypothermia
Capt. Benjamin Garman of the Northwest Maritime Academy and Chance Busey, videographer and assistant marketing director at Gig Harbor Marina & Boatyard, continue their cold water rescue series in their latest “NWMA Weekly” podcast, which addresses hypothermia.
Watch below and also follow the weekly podcasts and other maritime academy news on the Northwest Maritime Academy Facebook page
Capt. Garman, academy administrator, left, outlines the steps in recognizing and treating hypothermia.
“If you take anything from this,” he tells Busey and his video audience, “it’s that gradual warming of the victim is the key.”
Stages of Hypothermia
- Uncontrollable shivering — The body’s muscles contract and release quickly and repeatedly as a mechanism for generating heat. This shivering action also results in a high consumption of the body’s reserves, causing thirst and dehydration, thus compounding the person’s problems.
- Acting “drunk” — A person with hypothermia will act differently than normal, perhaps stumbling, exhibiting poor motor skills and acting “goofy” — similar to someone who is intoxicated.
- Warming sensation — As body temperature lowers, another self-preservation mechanism takes over: the body constricts arteries in the arms and legs so the heart doesn’t have to pump so much blood. Now more blood volume flows to the head and body core, resulting in a warming sensation.
- Removing clothing — A person in an advanced stage of hypothermia has the urge to remove clothing because of this heightened sensation of warmth.
Until this final stage, there are ways to recover from hypothermia, points out Garman.
Treatment of Hypothermia
- Gradual warming of a victim is key.
- Remove wet clothing, get the person dry.
- Skin to skin contact is the best way to gradually warm up a hypothermic person.
- Give small sips of water or other warm fluids, but NO alcohol.
- Keep the person stationary and watch them closely for a couple of hours. Irritability is typical as the person chills again when cold body fluids flow into arms and legs as arteries re-open.
For more information on this topic and classes offered by the Northwest Maritime Academy, contact Capt. Ben Garman at (253) 358-2447 or Facebook message him.
Did you know? Fast Rescue Boat (FRB) class is half-price during October!