Hypothermia by Pat Reynolds

8 Actions to Help A Hypothermic Sailor

Hypothermia, in the realm of sailing, is the lowering of the body’s core temperature (due to exposure) and the body’s inability to get back to a healthy and normal temperature. Obviously falling overboard in cold weather is the express train to hypothermia and we all should know what to do in the event of such a circumstance.

Here’s the bullet points for treatment according to webMD:

  1. Get the person out of the elements and indoors if possible.
  2. Remove the wet clothing and dry them off.
  3. Warm the person’s trunk first, not hands and feet. Warming extremities first can cause shock.
  4. Warm the person by wrapping him or her in blankets or putting dry clothing on the person.
  5. Contrary to what some believe, do not immerse the person in warm water. Rapid warming can cause heart arrhythmia.
  6. Give the person a warm drink. Avoid caffeine or alcohol. Now’s not the time to offer them a nice cold beer!
  7. Once the body temperature begins to rise, keep the person dry and wrapped in a warm blanket. Wrap the person’s head and neck, as well.
  8. Get them to a hospital to make sure all is well.

Obviously these are all good tips to dealing with hypothermia but we encourage you to do more research to get a more thorough perspective on prevention, stages, & treatment – these links are a good place to start:

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Darroch Cahen ASA Inst.
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The Sailing Foundation has a Safety At Sea course that includes dealing with Cold Water. The two day course includes getting in the water… Some Near Coastal races require 2 or more crew have this certificate. This is also good training for cruisers. http://www.thesailingfoundation.org/new_sas_seminars.htm