If you’re going boating this winter, you may be surprised to learn that one of the biggest dangers you can face is hypothermia. According to WebMD, hypothermia is defined as a deadly drop in internal body temperature. Surprisingly, in severe cases of hypothermia, individuals are so confused, they don’t even realize they are cold.
It is important to know the warning signs of hypothermia to ensure that you, your friends, and loved ones are protected during winter boating adventures. Most of us know that if we’re shivering, we probably need another layer, a change of clothes, or need to bundle up. However, there are many signs of hypothermia that not many people are aware of, and if not treated right away, can be fatal.
To help you stay as safe as possible, our boating accident attorneys have comprised five of the main symptoms associated with hypothermia that you can watch out for so you can quickly seek medical attention.
- Drowsiness. Even a change in internal body temperature as little as one degree can result in tiredness and sleepiness. As your body struggles to maintain homeostasis and restore its normal temperature, your brain may slow down to conserve energy. Individuals may not be aware that their sleepiness is the result of hypothermia. If someone is sleepy and appears hypothermic, they need to be warmed immediately.
- Confusion. Another symptom of hypothermia is confusion. This is another instance in which a person may not be self-aware of their condition. As the body struggles to maintain a consistent temperature, the energy that goes to your brain shifts to protecting your core and other organs as well. A person in this state may claim to feel just fine or even feel warm. If the person isn’t acting normally, try giving them something warm to drink and make sure that their clothes aren’t wet. Add layers.
- Slurred speech. Here’s another reason why you shouldn’t drink and boat. Not only does alcohol actually speed up heat loss, but the effects of drunkenness can mask hypothermia. Slurred speech or difficulty speaking is a sure sign that a person is hypothermic.
- Loss of coordination. Like all the other cognitive effects of hypothermia, coordination is also one of the first things to go as a person’s body temperature drops dangerously low. If you’re finding it hard to cast your line or perform other basic tasks, it might be time to get a warm drink, go inside, or add another layer.
- Nausea or hunger. Sudden hunger may be a sign that your body needs energy to warm up. Some people, when their systems are stressed, experience nausea. Listen to your body. Eat, rest, and make sure that you’re doing everything you can to stay warm.
Loss of consciousness, weak breathing, or increased confusion is a sign of serious hypothermia and may require medical attention. If you notice that you or someone in your party appears to be suffering from hypothermia, it is important that you take action right away and help them get medical attention. If emergency crews aren’t immediately available, change any wet clothes into dry ones, go inside if possible, and shield yourself or the other person from wind. Use warm blankets and drink something warm or give the victim a warm beverage such as milk or tea. Do not consume or give the victim a caffeinated beverage or alcohol.
Hypothermia can strike quickly. If you plan to boat in the winter, try to do so with a friend or even better, with a group of people. That way, you can look out for one another and get each other obtain treatment as quickly as possible.