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Hypothermia- a Sneaky and Serious Condition

It’s February in Texas and I thought I should get this article written before it lost all relevance. Daytime temperatures have often been in the high 70’s and occasionally have reached 80. But in reality, this is the perfect time of year to consider hypothermia, because there are large temperature swings. It might be 70 in the day and 28 at night. The high on Friday could be 68 and on Sunday the high might be 34. Large temperature swings often lead to improper preparation for conditions and can lead to problems.

Everyone knows some of the situations where hypothermia occurs. Fall through the ice on a frozen pond. Get caught in a sleet storm without proper clothing. Capsize a boat while duck hunting. Although these are certainly some situations where you can become hypothermic, there are many others. Recognizing the situation is one part of the equation. Knowing the proper treatment is equally important.

Writing articles is one way to get information out to people, but one that seems to work better on this site is creating a quiz. One of the most popular places visited on my site is the quiz, “How Good Is Your First Aid Knowledge?” Nearly 500 people have taken the quiz. The average score is 68. While that doesn’t seem very high, the average score on the quiz about snakes is 52.

This topic is important to me because we lost one of the sailors from our ship to hypothermia. He went on shore leave with a group of his mates to a wine tasting in the mountain country of Andorra. He was inside and had probably consumed more than the appropriate amount of alcohol. He got hot and sweaty and went out by himself to “cool off.” His friends lost track of time but eventually went to look for him. They found him a short distance away lying in the snow. He said he just laid down to get some rest. He didn’t recover.

Sometimes we wonder why the BSA has policies like the “buddy system.” Although these rules sometimes seem cumbersome, they can go a long way to preventing serious problems. Hypothermia sneaks up on you. Alone you might not recognize that you have gone beyond the stage of just being cold to something more dangerous. I hope the quiz on Hypothermia is helpful. Some reference sites are available below.

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