Within recent weeks a young girl died when her father had her walk down a road toward her mother's house when their car broke down. Her brother took off all his clothes in a blizzard. The father is now being prosecuted for his conduct.
Hypothermia is often thought of as simply a physiological process. But it is much more. It affects the thought processes.
I suggest "To Build a Fire" by Jack London be required reading for every schoolchild.
My experience with hypothermia madness took place thirty years ago on a training exercise in the Arizona mountains with a special Forces Captain (Athletic and a man's man). This individual was hardly the person to perform irrational acts and was in the peak of physical condition.
We were on a survival situation thanks to perfumed prince's who thought it was a good idea to air-drop us in the middle of nowhere in below zero temperatures to perform a make-believe military mission out of touch with everyone (no radios), no ammunition, and a drunk assigned to meet us in a week at a set of grid coordinates. Of course nobody knew this exercise was taking place because it was hush-hush, mush-mush. It even had a code name. Of course the brain-dead pilot air-dropped us a mountain range or two away from where he was supposed to. What's a few mountain ranges when you're an air-force jock scooting through the air every day at mach-2?
We walked across a stream and broke through the ice. Hmmm. Sound familiar, Jack London?
Wet, cold, and sub-zero temperatures.
My special forces partner developed hypothermia and his conduct became entirely irrational, endangering both of us. I knew this guy for a long time and he was "Joe-Cool", and a hero in Vietnam. I could not believe how hypothermia affected judgement and decision making. You could have told me until you were blue in the face and I would not have believed. Hypothermia induces madness.
If in a disaster situation where you have potential exposure to such cold and have to travel.
(a) always use the buddy system, and preferably travel with at least three people.
(b) always dress properly and several extra pairs of dry socks, underclothing, and dry pants in your backpack.
(c) carry a means to start a fire and back-up.
(d) wear quality equipment. There is a company called Wiggys that manufactured cold-weather gear for special operations. They make the best stuff on planet earth. On their website they have pages and pages of advice on how to survive in cold weather.
(e) It is generally better to stay with your car than travel long distances to "get help".
(f) democracy is great, but be aware if your are traveling, and a partner develops hypothermia, they can lose reason. They may insist in traveling in the wrong direction, for example, away from help, and no amount of taking can convince them otherwise. If you are the rational one, and you know your course of action is correct, you must assert yourself. If you are a teenager and the adult develops hypothermia, you will see the problem.
(g) Be especially cautious in crossing streams. As insane as it may seem, if you absolutely positively HAVE to cross a stream, remove your clothing (only as much as necessary - this may only require you to remove shoes and socks and roll your pants up), and shoes, carry everything high, and put everything back on DRY on the other side.
(h) If your are ever in the military and someone suggest you volunteer for a cold weather survival exercise, punch them in the mouth.
I read a great piece on preventing hypothermia which helped my family feel better prepared for our trip north at PrepareForIt.com (http://prepareforit.com/extremeweather/preventinghypothermia.html). Thankfully we did not have any problems but it scares the SH@T out of me.
I visited the site. It is interesting, but much of the advice seems to be provided by individuals who have had little actual "hands on" experience in survival. The advice provided on generators, for example, shows superficial understanding of the problems involved in use of generators.
The rule for using generators is simple:
Gas operated genrators produce carbon monoxide
Diesel generators do not produce carbon monoxide in significant quantities.
Carbon monoxide must be properly vented.
It means that those who purchase RV's should specify diesel generators.
Furthermore generators are designed to be operated at load and near capacity. The absolute worst thing you can do is run a generator at twenty-five percent load. Their site cautions about running generators under too much load. The person who wrote their section on generators has little electrical experience. The other problem is that running two generators together feeding a single electrical circuit may be impossible for reasons too complex to get into in this post. Thus the generator must have sufficient capacity to feed the load in the isolated circuit in which it is utilized. I just got rid of two huge diesel generators, once used as a back-up for a major airport, each with a capacity of 1500 KW.
That is not to say that the site does not have value. There is, however, much chaff mixed with the wheat. That's the problem with the internet in general.
I might add their advice includes blather regarding CPR written by someone with no medical experience who has never actually done so. They discuss CPR in the section on cold weather and in in the next section talk about "warming the patient". A first responder performing CPR should never be "warming the patient." That should be done at a hospital. Or in an ALS ambulance by persons under medical control following hospital protocols.
The most important fact about CPR on someone with hypothermia is that the five minute rule does not apply. People have been successfully resuscitated after being under ice water after four hours without brain damage. Thus CPR must never be discontinued at the site. Nor should a person in cardiac arrest secondary to hypothermia ever be pronounced without being "worked".
There are no references, nor are the credentials of the people who wrote the site stated. The lack of references on this site are the important thing.
I carefully read the recommended site "prepareforit" and would not recommend it in any way. Almost everything they say is "half-correct". It appears the people who prepared this site have an agenda and virtually no knowledge or experience in the field they profess to have knowledge of. "Prepareforit" is the kind of website that gets people killed.
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