Home Page About Us Social Networking Contact Us News Weekly Links Advertise with the Backcountry Radio Network Calendars of Events

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Harry's Outdoor Tips

Watch for Humorous and Informative Outdoor Tips with our own Expert from the Hills.


Learn about Hypothermia--A Silent Killer

Outdoor enthusiasts, caught in the high country during a cold snap, know from experience that fall weather can rapidly change from warm late summer weather to mid-winter blizzard conditions. Although fall can provide many enjoyable recreational activities, a silent killer often lurks in the background--hypothermia.

Hypothermia is a condition that occurs when body temperatures drop below normal, often due to exhaustion or exposure to the elements. Trouble usually occurs when the body loses heat faster than the body can produce it. As the core body temperature drops, the following symptoms occur (provided by Wilderness Medicine, William. Forgey, M.D.):

* 99 -97 F: Normal body temperature; Shivering may occur.
* 97 -95 F: Goose bumps; Shivering can range from mild to severe; unable to perform complex tasks with hands; skin becomes numb.
* 95 -93 F: Intense shivering; muscles become very uncoordinated; movements become slow; stumbling pace; mild confusion; Unable to walk a 30 ft line properly--THE BEST FIELD TEST OF HYPOTHERMIA.
* 93 -90 F: Violent shivering persists; difficulty speaking; sluggish thinking and amnesia; frequent stumbling; signs of depression.
* 90 -86 F: Shivering stops; blue and puffy exposed skin; confusion; inability to walk; very poor coordination; irrational behavior, BUT MAY BE ABLE TO MAINTAIN POSTURE AND APPEARANCE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL CONTACT.
* 86 -82 F: Severely rigid muscles; semiconscious; loss of psychological contact; slow pulse and respiration; dilated pupils.
* 82 -78 F: Unconsciousness; erratic heart beat and respiration; muscle tendon reflexes cease; heart beat may be inapparent.
* 78 -75 F: Failure of cardiac and respiratory centers; probable death: DEATH MAY OCCUR BEFORE THIS LEVEL.

Although hypothermia can easily occur in bitter cold conditions, it most often attacks between 30 and 80 degree temperatures, as energy is lost from the body. Outdoor recreationists need to be aware of the previously listed conditions to treat hypothermia before it becomes severe. Many victims often do not realize the existing threat until it is almost too late. Dr. Glenn R. McGettigan explains how individuals can avoid hypothermia and treat victims.

Eat properly and often. Whenever you are in camp, take advantage of the available food to fuel the body and maintain it's normal temperatures. Avoid the idea that you will eat a big meal in the evening. It may be too late by then. Get sufficient rest and avoid alcohol, which interferes with the body's thermostat.

Dress with several layers. Layers trap air, which provide greater insulation from surrounding temperatures. Many layers usually provide better insulation than one "heavy coat" and also allow the recreationist to remove layers as temperatures rise.


Listen to our Programming

You can find Backcountry Utah on several fine stations throughout Utah. To find a station near you, visit the Network site

Listen to our Drivetime Segments
KTMP 1340 AM in Heber
Weekdays 7:55 a.m. and 3:55 p.m.

KOAL 750 AM in Price
7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

KCYN 97.1 FM in Moab

Weekdays 8:40 a.m. and 4:50 p.m

KCPX 1490 AM in Spanish Valley
Weekdays 7:40 a.m. and 4:40 p.m.

Listen to the Weekend Edition
KTKK 630 AM in Salt Lake City, Ogden and Provo
Saturday Mornings 10 a.m.-11 a.m.

.Perspiration is a problem, as clothing becomes wet and drains heat from the body, when you later require better insulation. Avoid cotton clothing because of it's inability to insulate as it gets wet.

Wool and many synthetic fibers are much more capable of providing necessary insulation when wet. Use windproof and waterproof outer clothing. A warm hat can help significantly, especially since 50% of body heat is lost through the head. Bring plenty of clothing for the conditions which may occur. To prevent hypothermia, the individual must stay dry and warm.

Avoid going alone and watch your companions for potential hypothermia. It is usually easier to observe another individual's symptoms, than one's own. If any signs of hypothermia are observed, the following should be done:

1.) Get the person out of the weather. An emergency shelter may be required.

2.) Remove any and all wet clothing.

3.) If the individual appears to show the early symptoms of hypothermia, get him into dry clothes and a warm sleeping bag. Make a warm, sweet drink for him to provide energy and warmth.

4.) Build a fire. A roaring fire can provide a great amount of controlled heat.

5.) If the individual shows more advanced signs of hypothermia and is beyond the stage of intense shivering, the victim is exhausted and requires rest and food. The victim is also usually dehydrated and requires additional fluids. Warm, sweet drinks are recommended. If the victim cannot be evacuated to a nearby hospital, heat will have to be added slowly to avoid re-warming shock. Dr. Forgey notes that the naked victim huddling with two naked rescuers in a sleeping bag may be the only alternative. Chemical heat packs can be used as well, but care must be taken not to burn the victim. Avoid rubbing the victim's skin and do not give the victim alcohol or allow him to smoke. Slow heating is required to avoid re-warming shock.

"Afterdrop" is a problem which can occur after rescue attempts are initiated. This may occur as cool blood from the hands, feet, arms, legs, and skin returns to the central body core and lowers the body core temperature even more. This is most likely to happen if the body extremities (arms and legs) are rewarmed rapidly or if the patient tries to exercise.

It is recommended to obtain professional medical care as soon as conditions allow. Time is a critical factor. McGettigan notes that hikers have developed symptoms and become unconscious within 30 minutes. Although many cases allow more time than this, no time should be wasted in treating the victim

E-mail updates
Click here for a chance to win prizes and receive weekly updates from Backcountry Utah

Be a Facebook Friend
Be our Friend on Facebook

Be a Facebook Fan
For more News and Updates

Outdoor Adventure Journal
Our Blog with News Updates

Network Audio Links
Program Segments with Links to Websites

Search this Website

Google Custom Search




Camp Chef        My Outdoor TV


Facebook Fans

Backcountry Radio Network, 6700 South 3600 West, Benjamin, Utah 84660
To Advertise Phone: 801-360-3645 •  Email: advertise@backcountrynetwork.com

Website Design By Backcountry Radio Network