Hypothermia Survival Stories | High Sierra Topix  

Hypothermia Survival Stories

Grab your bear can or camp chair, kick your feet up and chew the fat about anything Sierra Nevada related that doesn't quite fit in any of the other forums. Within reason, (and the HST rules and guidelines) this is also an anything goes forum. Tell stories, discuss wilderness issues, music, or whatever else the High Sierra stirs up in your mind.
User avatar

Hypothermia Survival Stories

Postby maverick » Mon Jan 21, 2013 4:58 pm

Have any of you fallen into a river/creek/lake and had to act swiftly to avoid getting
hypothermia. Ever get caught in a rain storm, gotten drenched, and felt the chill
come on suddenly. Or how but doing a sweaty hike lasting all day and then the sun
starts to set and cold wind picks up all of sudden making your core temps drop suddenly?
Have you or anyone you know been hypothermic, and what category did you/they
fall into?


Wikipedia:

Signs and symptoms

The signs and symptoms vary depending on the degree of hypothermia and may be
divided by the three stages of severity.

Mild

Symptoms of mild hypothermia may be vague with sympathetic nervous system
excitation (shivering, hypertension, tachycardia, tachypnea, and vasoconstriction).
These are all physiological responses to preserve heat. Cold diuresis, mental confusion,
as well as hepatic dysfunction may also be present. Hyperglycemia may be present, as
glucose consumption by cells and insulin secretion both decrease, and tissue sensitivity
to insulin may be blunted. Sympathetic activation also releases glucose from the liver.
In many cases, however, especially in alcoholic patients, hypoglycemia appears to be
a more common presentation. Hypoglycemia is also found in many hypothermic patients
because hypothermia often is a result of hypoglycemia.

Moderate

Low body temperature results in shivering becoming more violent. Muscle mis-
coordination becomes apparent. Movements are slow and labored, accompanied by
a stumbling pace and mild confusion, although the victim may appear alert. Surface
blood vessels contract further as the body focuses its remaining resources on keeping
the vital organs warm. The victim becomes pale. Lips, ears, fingers and toes may
become blue.

Severe

As the temperature decreases further physiological systems falter and heart rate,
respiratory rate, and blood pressure all decreases. This results in an expected HR
in the 30s with a temperature of 28 °C (82 °F).

Difficulty in speaking, sluggish thinking, and amnesia start to appear; inability to
use hands and stumbling is also usually present. Cellular metabolic processes shut
down. Below 30 °C (86 °F), the exposed skin becomes blue and puffy, muscle
coordination becomes very poor, walking becomes almost impossible, and the
person exhibits incoherent/irrational behavior including terminal burrowing or
even a stupor. Pulse and respiration rates decrease significantly, but fast heart
rates (ventricular tachycardia, atrial fibrillation) can occur. Major organs fail.
Clinical death occurs. Because of decreased cellular activity in stage 3 hypothermia,
the body will actually take longer to undergo brain death.

Paradoxical undressing

Twenty to fifty percent of hypothermia deaths are associated with paradoxical
undressing. This typically occurs during moderate to severe hypothermia, as the
person becomes disoriented, confused, and combative. They may begin discarding
their clothing, which, in turn, increases the rate of heat loss.

Rescuers who are trained in mountain survival techniques are taught to expect this;
however, some may assume incorrectly that urban victims of hypothermia have been
subjected to a sexual assault.

One explanation for the effect is a cold-induced malfunction of the hypothalamus, the
part of the brain that regulates body temperature. Another explanation is that the
muscles contracting peripheral blood vessels become exhausted (known as a loss of
vasomotor tone) and relax, leading to a sudden surge of blood (and heat) to the
extremities, fooling the person into feeling overheated.

Terminal burrowing

An apparent self-protective behaviour known as terminal burrowing, or hide-and-die syndrome,occurs in the final stages of hypothermia. The afflicted will enter small,
enclosed spaces, such as underneath beds or behind wardrobes. It is often associated
with paradoxical undressing.



Managment

Aggressiveness of treatment is matched to the degree of hypothermia. Treatment
ranges from noninvasive, passive external warming, to active external rewarming,
to active core rewarming. In severe cases resuscitation begins with simultaneous
removal from the cold environment and concurrent management of the airway,
breathing, and circulation. Rapid rewarming is then commenced. A minimum of
patient movement is recommended as aggressive handling may increase risks of
a dysrhythmia.
Hypoglycemia is a frequent complication of hypothermia, and therefore needs to
be tested for and treated. Intravenous thiamine and glucose is often recommended
as many causes of hypothermia are complicated by Wernicke's encephalopathy.

Rewarming

Rewarming can be achieved using a number of different methods including passive
external rewarming, active external rewarming, and active internal rewarming.
Passive external rewarming involves the use of a person's own heat generating
ability through the provision of properly insulated dry clothing and moving to a
warm environment.It is recommended for those with mild hypothermia. Active
external rewarming involves applying warming devices externally such as
warmed forced air (a Bair Hugger is a commonly used device). In austere
environments hypothermia can sometimes be treated by placing a hot water
bottle in both armpits and groin.It is recommended for moderate hypothermia.
Active core rewarming involves the use of intravenous warmed fluids, irrigation
of body cavities with warmed fluids (the thorax, peritoneal, stomach, or bladder),
use of warm humidified inhaled air, or use of extracorporeal rewarming such as
via a heart lung machine. Extracorporeal rewarming is the fastest method for those
with severe hypothermia.

Intravenous fluids


As most people are moderately dehydrated due to hypothermia induced cold
diuresis, intravenous fluids are often helpful (250–500 cc 5% dextrose and normal
saline warmed to a temperature of 40–45 °C is often recommended).

Rewarming collapse

Rewarming collapse (or rewarming shock) is a sudden drop in blood pressure in
combination with a low cardiac output which may occur during active treatment
of a severely hypothermic person. There is theoretical concern that external
rewarming rather than internal rewarming may increase the risk. However, recent
studies have not supported these concerns
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org



User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8029
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Hypothermia Survival Stories

Postby rlown » Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:03 pm

yes.. mild.. called the hike for the group and demanded everyone in their tents and bags.

Before you scare everyone further by cross-posting how we might die, Is there a point? we could just have looked it up from a link. Most here don't go out unappreciative of what Mother Nature might offer up.

Russ
User avatar
rlown
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 5328
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:00 pm
Location: Petaluma and Wilton, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Hypothermia Survival Stories

Postby Troutdog 59 » Mon Jan 21, 2013 6:32 pm

Not myself, but I did have a friend who ended up in the "moderate" category many years back. We had gotten a later start than planned and ended up hiking pretty hard on day 1 to get to our planned 1st nights camp. We had gone from the direct sun and perspiring freely to the afternoon shade and we were unaware it was really getting to our hiking partner. When we stopped to set up camp he began to shiver quite a bit and that's when we noticed he was stumbling a bit and slurring his words. A closer look found his skin to be blotchy and his lips and finger tips were blueish We got him in his bag right away and a couple of hot teas later he was no worse for wear.
If you stand in the light, you get the feel of the night, and the music that plays in your ear......
In your mind you can hear, a voice so sweet and clear, and the music that plays in your head......
As it flows up from the ground, taking all that hear the sound, close your eyes, it’s about to begin.

R. Trower
User avatar
Troutdog 59
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 549
Joined: Thu Dec 23, 2010 12:11 pm
Location: Clovis
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Hypothermia Survival Stories

Postby maverick » Mon Jan 21, 2013 6:40 pm

Troutdog 59 wrote:
Not myself, but I did have a friend who ended up in the "moderate" category
many years back. We had gotten a later start than planned and ended up hiking
pretty hard on day 1 to get to our planned 1st nights camp. We had gone from
the direct sun and perspiring freely to the afternoon shade and we were unaware
it was really getting to our hiking partner. When we stopped to set up camp he
began to shiver quite a bit and that's when we noticed he was stumbling a bit and
slurring his words. A closer look found his skin to be blotchy and his lips and finger
tips were blueish We got him in his bag right away and a couple of hot teas later
he was no worse for wear.


Glad you guys were around and he wasn't going solo, it could have turned out much
worse.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8029
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Hypothermia Survival Stories

Postby gary c. » Mon Jan 21, 2013 8:03 pm

When I was 16 or 17 two buddies and I decided to take an inflatable raft out onto Lake Isabella durring an easter weekend of young foolishness. The wind came up and we couldn't paddle back to shore against the wind. Rather than get blown across the lake we decided it was a better idea to swim back against the waves towing the raft behind. By the time we reached shore we were all three shivering violently and talking slurred. Myself and one of the other guys had dark purple bruise like marks under our arms and on our inside thighs. The purple marks went away as soon as we warmed up. I'm not sure what level that falls under but I was sure scared when I got out of the water and saw those hicky like marks.
"On this proud and beautiful mountain we have lived hours of fraternal, warm and exalting nobility. Here for a few days we have ceased to be slaves and have really been men. It is hard to return to servitude."
-- Lionel Terray
User avatar
gary c.
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 998
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2006 4:56 pm
Location: Lancaster, CA
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Hypothermia Survival Stories

Postby LMBSGV » Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:50 pm

Mild twice, both due to hiking in the rain all day. The first was in North Cascades National Park in 1977 with my wife. When we got to the campsite, I was shivering uncontrollably. We put up the tent, got inside and I took off my clothes and got into my sleeping bag. My wife climbed in, too, to help warm me up faster.

The other time was in 2005 in the upper part of the North Fork of the San Joaquin. I was intending to get to Upper Twin Island Lakes. Mid-afternoon after a day of heavy rain and wading a side creek crossing, the visibility got down to about 100 yards. I started shivering uncontrollably and was at what seemed to be a campsite by the river where the falls from Upper Twin Island Lake come down. I managed to get the tent up in the downpour without any water getting inside. Again, I took off my clothes and got inside my sleeping bag, then put on polartec pants and my polartec jacket (which had stayed dry under my raincoat except for the end of one sleeve). Due to symptoms being the same as the experience in the Cascades, I lay there thinking polartec is nowhere near as good as my wife for dealing with mild hypothermia.
User avatar
LMBSGV
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 579
Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2007 8:42 pm
Location: San Geronimo, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Hypothermia Survival Stories

Postby bluefish » Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:02 pm

At one time I lived down canyon in June Lake. I use to ride the June Lake Loop almost daily as a timed training ride. One spring day, wearing shorts, t-shirt and a light windbreaker I began the ride out towards Mono Lake and by the time I hit the jct. with 395 it began to spit snow and the wind picked up considerably. I had a hard time fighting the wind up 395 to the south entrance to the loop. By the time I was coasting through town I was so out of it, I didn't stop and get inside friend's houses or stores. I got within 1/4 mile of my cabin and fell off the bike, as I was unable to balance any longer. I abandoned the bike on the side of the road (All Campy equipped race bike-was still there the next day!) staggered down the small side road to my cabin and had the presence of mind left to get in the shower with my clothes on. After warming up, I crawled in bed with my winter bag and slept for 13 hrs.
I've seen hypothermia victims come off Mt. Washington in NH.They were sledded out in a fetal position. I've been acutely aware of the onset of hypothermia since the incident on the bike, and thankfully have avoided it since. It's frightening how the mental incapacity can lead to further poor decisions. I was lucky.
I did have another incident on a mountain in Vt. where after a long hard ascent through deep snow and the temps dropping to around 15 below, I had a hard time heating dinner and lost most in the snow. I gave my wife what survived and we got in the tent. In an hour I was shivering hard and my wife zipped our bags together and got me warm. She also made me eat a granola bar after I stopped shivering. Like LMB's , my wife beats synthetic clothing all to heck and gone. :D

Charlie
User avatar
bluefish
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 61
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2012 6:45 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Hypothermia Survival Stories

Postby gdurkee » Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:33 pm

A bunch of years ago (and, increasingly, everything is a bunch of years ago...) I was involved in a SAR for two guys doing a climb of Mendel Couloir at Thanksgiving. They got caught by a serious storm, bailed down to Evolution Lake; spent, I think, 4 days digging snow caves and trying to survive with minimal gear (just what they had to climb the route from their camp at upper Darwin Lake). NAS Lemoore helicopter came in in after the storm cleared and saw a guy at the outlet of Evolution Lake, naked and holding his boots.

When the two guys were taken to the hospital, they both -- separately -- told the same story. That the helicopter had come in, hovered, and the Crew Chief yelled at them to take off their clothes, laughed at them, then left.

The one guy explained this to the other, who thought it kinda weird but did help his friend out of his clothes -- keeping his own on. Their friend who met them at the hospital called me to complain about the treatment of his friends by Lemoore.

What had happened is the helicopter had come in , spotted them both, then gone back to McClure Meadow to offload weight; then returned and picked both of them up.

Weird. But they were probably both within hours of dying and, obviously, hallucinating.

Someday I'll tell the story of the search for Naked Heroin Addict in Handcuffs.

g.
User avatar
gdurkee
Founding Member
 
Posts: 658
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2005 8:20 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Hypothermia Survival Stories

Postby gdurkee » Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:47 pm

Charlie: really, really lucky!

Twice: On Shasta as a teenager. In hindsight, not sure how I survived. Dumb luck. Snow and sleet descending; frozen hands trying to make dinner; shivering constantly (and I weighed 100 lbs -- no fat whatsoever); crawled in sleeping bag shivering and wet. But, made it through the night and got out the next day.

Only a few years back another ranger talked me into swimming to the small island at the upper Rae Lake in mid-September. She was maybe 10 yards ahead of me. About half-way, the heat just sucked out of our bodies and I could barely move. I rolled on my back and did a basic backstroke, barely making it to shore. The other ranger had gotten there but realized she'd be unable to help me 'cause she couldn't go back in.

Well! Then there we were, two naked frozen rangers on an island in Rae Lakes and we couldn't go back the way we came. What now, kimosabe??

Fortunately, we saw a big boulder underwater on the west side, swam to that, rested, then made it to shore.

Not as easy being a ranger as it might appear.

g.
User avatar
gdurkee
Founding Member
 
Posts: 658
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2005 8:20 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Hypothermia Survival Stories

Postby Jimr » Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:37 am

My only experience with Hypothermia was in La Bufadora Mexico and was a short-lived experience. We were camping and scuba diving from the pangas there. After a dive, my brother-in-law and I went shore fishing. I had only a few scampis and one got caught up in the kelp. I knew I was taking a risk if I swam out to get it because the water temp was 50F. I had my BIL keep an eye on me from shore, swam out, got the lure free, then swam back. By the time I got to the rocks, I had nothing left to pull myself from the water. My mind was numb and I could barely talk. My BIL helped me out of the water and laid me down on the rocks to warm in the sun. I couldn't have been in the water for more than 5 minutes, but it was enough to nearly incapacitate me both physically and mentally.
What?!
User avatar
Jimr
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1122
Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2009 2:14 pm
Location: Redondo Beach
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Hypothermia Survival Stories

Postby Maddog61 » Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:02 pm

gdurkee wrote:Well! Then there we were, two naked frozen rangers on an island in Rae Lakes and we couldn't go back the way we came.

You sir, really need to write a book. :-)

Sent from my ADR6410LVW using Tapatalk 2
User avatar
Maddog61
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 70
Joined: Fri Dec 23, 2011 11:06 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Hypothermia Survival Stories

Postby oldranger » Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:14 pm

Ah George--the old naked ranger syndrome! I remember it well!

Mike
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
User avatar
oldranger
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2164
Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2007 9:18 pm
Location: Bend, Oregon
Experience: N/A

Next

Return to The Campfire



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: MSNbot Media [Bot] and 3 guests