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Hypothermia in sunny Southern California? Don't laugh, the dangers are real. The fact of the matter is that hypothermia can strike even on a sunny slightly cool day. Hypothermia is not just getting a slight chill and doing some jumping jacks to warm yourself up. Hypothermia is more, and can be serious trouble.

Hypothermia is a sudden loss of the core temperature of your body to below 96 degrees F. Although this is just a little over 2 degrees temperature drop, the effects can be very serious to the body. Continued cooling of the body can disrupt major body organs and cause serious trouble. Keeping yourself prepared in the mountains can be the difference between life and death. Heat loss is caused by conduction, convection, evaporation and radiation. We lose this heat through our heads, so wear a hat. We lose it through exposure to water, so bring a rain coat. We lose it from stupidity, don't be stupid, know your surroundings, be prepared. Shivering is small involuntary muscle contractions where your body is attempting to produce additional heat by creating friction between your muscle cells. Your body also restricts the blood flow to your extremities, your hands, and your feet in an attempt to stem heat loss. Shivering, stiff hands, sore feet are all normal parts of being cold. These are all signs of impending hypothermia.

Hike prepared... If you are going on a serious expedition, hiking for more than a couple of days, be sure to check weather reports and always prepare for the possibility of extreme weather conditions. Items such as gloves, hats and even a portable stove can be life savers when required. Another good idea is to bring along rain protection. Water draws heat 540 times faster than air, and even light winds have a serious cooling effect. Clothing when wet can greatly increase the chances of hypothermia. Proper clothing is essential when traveling in the backcountry. Eating high calorie food, and drinking plenty of water is also necessary to reduce the threat of hypothermia. To prevent hypothermia is really easy, "stay warm and dry".

Signs of hypothermia include the obvious, "I am feeling cold", "shivering", "strong desire to get warm" but also watch for clumsiness or lost interest in hike. These signs can be classified as mild signs of hypothermia. Profound hypothermia signs are a core body temperature drop, a change in personality, loss of coordination, cold skin, fruity acetone breath, sweaty or urine soaked clothing.

Mild hypothermia is easily treatable. Would you like to guess at the treatment? Well, here comes the shocker of the answer: GET WARM. Profound hypothermia is not an easy one, however. Survival for the unconscious hypothermic victim lies on a thin line. So, in this case, care and education is essential. Keep reading, you never know when you are going to need this information. Handle the person gently, moving the person abruptly can be critical. Do not attempt to re-warm the patient, instead send someone out for help immediately and prepare the victim for the rescue. In Idyllwild, and the mountains surrounding Idyllwild your best treatment is stabilization and sending someone for help Re-warming of the person should only be done as a last resort. Understand that the chance of survival is very low. Idyllwild has agencies such as RMRU trained in the safe and efficient extraction of people in distress.

If you feel hypothermic or perhaps miserable turn around and go home. The trail will always be there tomorrow.

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