Preventing Hypothermia

NINE degrees separates us from normal body temperature and death.
A sobering thought.

WEAR A HAT.
KEEP DRY.
STAY ON THE BOAT.
EAT HIGH ENERGY FOODS.
DRINK WARM SWEET DRINKS.

Up to 30% of body heat escapes out the head, so wearing a hat will prevent feeling cold.
Keep dry wearing a waterproof jacket and warm clothing.
In the water it doesn’t take long for hypothermia symptoms to appear.
Eating chocolate bars at sea is not frowned upon. You need to keep your energy levels up.
Warm drinks.
Keep the body warm as the priority, extremities, arms and legs take second place.

If in doubt on the patient’s wellbeing, call for help using the VHF radio, CHANNEL 16.

MILD HYPOTHERMIA
DO:
Give warm sweet drinks
Keep moving
Warm dry clothes
Mild heat source for the body, not the arms and legs

MODERATE HYPOTHERMIA
DO:
Give warm sweet drinks only if the patient is conscious
Limit exercise
Warm dry clothes
Mild heat source for the body, not the arms and legs
Seek expert advice or get patient checked by a doctor

SEVERE or CRITICAL HYPOTHERMIA
DO:
REQUEST EXPERT ADVICE AND ASSISTANCE IMMEDIATELY
If help is WITHIN ONE HOUR away do not attempt to re-warm the patient.
If help is MORE THAN ONE HOUR away attempt to re-warm the patient.
Warm slowly and gently.
Put into recovery position
Give warm drinks only of the patient is conscious
Mild heat source to the chest area, (other people’s warmth), not the arms and legs

CRITICAL HYPOTHERMIA
DO:
Tilt the head back to open the airway.
Listen and check for breathing, feel for pulse.
If there is a pulse, DO NOT give CPR.
Monitor the pulse and if it stops give CPR.
Apply mild heat to the chest area, not the arms and legs.
Exhale warm breath into the patient’s face so that they breathe warm air.
The body’s core temperature takes longer to warm up than skin temperature so keep the patient warm and protected even though there is an apparent recovery or until help arrives.
(It may take hours or days to fully rewarm a patient.)

Don’t listen to the patient as they may act irrationally.
Don’t give alcohol to the patient.

Prevention is better than cure.
Happy boating!
Happy sailing!

Source: Royal New Zealand Coastguard Education Service

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