When the temperature of your body falls to a level at which your vital organs can no longer function, you are experiencing hypothermia or exposure sickness. Hypothermia can develop rapidly from cold, wet and/or windy conditions that chill the body at a speed faster than it can produce heat. A lack of energy-producing food and proper clothing will increase the speed hypothermia affects you. Always remember to bring extra food and clothing. Exposure sickness generally occurs at temperatures below 10 degrees centigrade, however, it can happen at any air temperature less than your normal body temperature – even during the summer!
- Uncontrollable shivering and numbness,
- Your mind becomes slow and starts to wander,
- Violent shivering ceases and muscles begin to stiffen and become uncoordinated,
- Exposed skin becomes blue,
- Pulse and respiration slows,
- Death – the part of the brain controlling the heart and lungs ceases functioning.
Move the victim to a sheltered area protected from the elements. Remove wet clothing and replace it with dry clothes. Place the camper in a sleeping bag with a warm friend. Wrap warm rocks in a wool or cotton cloth (no synthetics please) and place it near the individual. Do not let this person fall unconscious. Give the camper a warm, non-alcoholic drink.