Baby, it's cold outside
March 15, 2009 10:03 AM   Subscribe

An article describing the experience of getting (and recovering from) hypothermia.

If you end up in danger, do you know what to do to avoid hypothermia if you're in the water or on land? If you find someone who might be suffering from hypothermia, here's a field chart for treatment.

People can die of hypothermia even when the temperatures are above freezing. (A notable instance occurred in 1964 in England). Note that "severe hypothermia causes cardiac instability". Drinking warm sweet liquids can help someone recover faster, but avoid alcoholic or caffeinated beverages. Paradoxical undressing is when hypothermic (aka "cold stupid") people remove articles of clothing even as they get colder. This has resulted in people with hypothermia being misdiagnosed as victims of sexual assault.
posted by rmd1023 (20 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
It just goes to show, you can't be too careful. There.
posted by Naberius at 10:09 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

I was teaching a course to recruits in the field, in the middle of July, relatively warm weather (15c) after we had all been soaked in rain. I was fine as I was moving about in front of them, but I had to stop the lesson after ten minutes because of all the pale faces and blue lips that were shivering before me. One girl had to be taken to the MR where they put her in dry cloths and stuck her in arctic sleeping bags with hot water bottles to bring her core temperature back up.

Don't be mislead to think you can only get hypothermia by being dunked in frigid waters!
posted by furtive at 10:25 AM on March 15, 2009

This was on reddit a few days ago. Some of the commentors posted their personal stories.
posted by aheckler at 10:29 AM on March 15, 2009

wow. i hadn't seen the reddit stuff. that's some collection of impressive near-doom experiences.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:38 AM on March 15, 2009

furtive - what were you teaching them?
posted by sidereal at 10:40 AM on March 15, 2009

Sorry, but it's a double.
posted by william_boot at 10:44 AM on March 15, 2009

How is it a double, William? I don't see a mention of hypothermia in the FPP you linked to.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:57 AM on March 15, 2009

sidereal - advance to contact or something similar.
posted by furtive at 11:10 AM on March 15, 2009

I had a hypothermia experience when I was a kid, snow camping when I was in the Boy Scouts. There were maybe ten of us - to make the story brief, we all ended up basically trying to sleep in ice water from melted snow. Stayed up all night eating trail mix, trying to keep warm. Next morning we just bailed on that misadventure. Scoutmaster actually had to be hospitalized and several of us (including myself) had minor frostbite on the tips of our fingers and toes. It aint no joke.
posted by elendil71 at 11:24 AM on March 15, 2009

Comment double, not a double FPP.
posted by dilettante at 11:30 AM on March 15, 2009

It is cold out. You are likely to be eaten by a snowgrue.
posted by not_on_display at 12:02 PM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Finally, nearly 45 minutes later, you find the bail. You even manage to... (First Link)

Wait, what?
posted by Avelwood at 12:06 PM on March 15, 2009

This is pretty much exactly what happens to me every night in bed when my wife decides that the only way to get warm is to thrust her bloodless extremities between my legs and steal the entire set of blankets off me. I wake up at 3am, cold and alone, desperate to pee.
posted by jimmythefish at 12:52 PM on March 15, 2009 [3 favorites]

Your wife wanders off every night at 3 AM?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:28 PM on March 15, 2009

Your wife wanders off every night at 3 AM?

My mind equates Arby's with
posted by jimmythefish at 2:52 PM on March 15, 2009

That field chart is full of good info--instinct is to immediately throw blankets all over the exposed person, but that's not always the right thing to do.

Warm, sweet drinks with lots of calories, but no caffeine or alcohol--what's a good choice there? Seems like it would be good to have some on hand, but I keep thinking of hot chocolate, which is certainly caffeinated.
posted by misha at 3:26 PM on March 15, 2009

I got hypothermia during the seventh grade, getting locked out of my house (in a rural area where the homes are far apart) while in a cast and wearing shorts, because my fucking teacher decided she absolutely needed to confiscate my housekey, because I had the nerve to pull it out of my pocket and look at it while she was talking. I couldn't make it to a neighbour's house without likely breaking my other leg, being pretty new on crutches and due to the fact there were no sidewalks, etc. I remember my mom and sister coming home like 3 hours later and I was fucking half-dead on the front stoop, barely strong enough to ring the doorbell to let them know I was there, cursing my teacher for her stupid power-trip. I'm still mad at her about it. My sister really let her have it the next day. I can still remember the odd sensation it feeling like my very bones were cold.
posted by autodidact at 4:02 PM on March 15, 2009

The article is great, but it's over 12 years old.

To put all you nerds in the right mindframe: the month this was released, so was Diablo. The original.
posted by graventy at 7:42 PM on March 15, 2009

The article is great, but it's over 12 years old.

Has hypothermia changed since then?
posted by atrazine at 12:03 AM on March 16, 2009

misha: i'm not sure chocolate is sufficiently caffeinated to have the deadly effect. but a friend of mine swears by jello mixed half-strength with warm water. (she's been known to carry it in a thermos when doing very cold weather hiking)
posted by rmd1023 at 3:56 AM on March 16, 2009

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