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#218114 - 02/28/11 03:28 PM Re: Hypothermia Kit [Re: ILBob]
paramedicpete Offline

Registered: 04/09/02
Posts: 1920
Loc: Frederick, Maryland
I am not so sure about the advice to give sugar water to hypothermia victims. There is some pretty compelling reasons that practice might be counterproductive that I have seen elsewhere.

Like a lot of conventional wisdom type things, that advice may be based mostly on what people have been doing rather than what might work better.

I am more inclined to calories from fat than from sugar in such a case.

I have also seen some interesting speculations that drinking hot beverages might not be an especially good idea either.

Can you please provide references?


#218117 - 02/28/11 03:53 PM Re: Hypothermia Kit [Re: dweste]
PureSurvival Offline

Registered: 02/21/09
Posts: 149
Loc: UK

Your post goes against everything known about treating mild Hypothermia.

Hypothermia has a direct correlation with energy stores or lack of it, in the body. Shivering stops when the body runs out of the stores and you have nothing else to fuel the bodies response of trying to warm itself. A fire needs fuel.

If someone is hypothermic they need fuel in the form of simple (fast acting) and complexed (slow acting) carbs. The reason you give sugary food stuff is because it is fast acting fuel, it flash burns keeping the fire going until more complexed carbs (slow acting fuel) can be given to sustain the fire.

The first time I had mild hypothermia I was given an equal mix of sugar and milk powder mixed with water into a thick paste. This gave me enough energy to get of the hill.

The reason the milk powder was added is because it contain essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals, which the body needs to have replaced to take full advantage of the simple carbs.

#218125 - 02/28/11 06:17 PM Re: Hypothermia Kit [Re: paramedicpete]
ILBob Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 02/05/10
Posts: 776
Loc: Northern IL
Originally Posted By: paramedicpete
Can you please provide references?


If I can find them again I will.
Warning - I am not an expert on anything having to do with this forum, but that won't stop me from saying what I think. smile


#218127 - 02/28/11 07:44 PM Re: Hypothermia Kit [Re: ILBob]
paramedicpete Offline

Registered: 04/09/02
Posts: 1920
Loc: Frederick, Maryland
If I can find them again I will.

I do hope you can locate those references. I think is it critical to our discussion that we can examine the science behind this alternative way of treating hypothermia. As with much of emergency medicine (CPR, tourniquets, use of IV fluids, etc.) there is a constant evolution of treatment modalities. Many types of medical treatment come into vogue and then fall out of favor, only to be “reinvented” in another form as our knowledge of physiology and the body’s reaction to various treatments is analyzed.


#219364 - 03/16/11 09:15 AM Re: Hypothermia Kit [Re: dweste]
juhirvon Offline

Registered: 03/09/11
Posts: 36
Resurrecting a thread, I suppose. Sorry about that.

Here where I live (Finland) winter is really cold, regularly dropping below -25°C (-15°F) during the day. There's luckily not strong winds, but still.

I don't actually carry any specific kit, unless you count general clothes and camping gear. So, a good sleeping bag, thermal mattress, wind barrier (space blanket, poncho, tent) and towel or sponge for drying yourself. There are, however, steps we take when crossing over ice or other high-risk endeavours.

I might consider carrying waterproof matches and solid or waterproof fuels (esbit, fire gel, candles) and easy-to-use heat packs (either ones you snap to activate, tear the foil (with numb enough hands, might be impossible) or those rechargeable one where you just flick the metal button inside (but these solidify in freezing temperatures and thus might not work when needed).

I wouldn't trust on anything requiring fine motor skills (even something as simple as butane lighters can be difficult to operate, let alone stoves you need to fill, pump, assemble or anything like that)

1. Stay dry. Remove excess clothes before an activity to avoid sweating. If you sweat, do not put clothes back on for a few minutes. You will cool down and the sweating will stop.
2. Always keep a set of dry clothes, with you or with your partner (see point 3).
3. When moving on ice, move in pairs and keep your dry set of clothes in your partner's bag. Keep a distance of about 5 metres between everybody. Stay out out areas of thin ice (steep embankments, river mouths, places with cat tails and whatnot poking through).
4. Check regularly yourself each other for signs (thumb to pinky finger is a good test). White, waxy skin surrounded by red ring is a sign of frostbite, but can also indicate hypothermia. Numb skin in another (especially toes, fingers, ears, nose and shins).

As treatment:
Stop any heat loss at once. Get the patient out of wet clothes, dry and inside a shelter (tent, space blanket, sleeping bag). Let them drink warm (not hot) liquids, the more carbohydrates in it the better).

Never check for temperature of any warm/hot liquid with your finger if you are hypothermic. Your fingers will be numb, and you can easily get 1st and 2nd degree burns without even knowing it. Same goes for metal cups and fire. The safest is to remember how long it took for water to heat up and count. (This goes for Thermos flasks too. Hot contents will burn you rather than warm you, so it might be a good idea to store warm liquids rather than hot ones).

I've seen people burn their mouths with beverages they thought we're only lukewarm, as well as turning red from soaking their hands in what turned out to be really hot water (as hot as you get from a tap) A few years back I got myself blisters on my toes when "slightly" warming them by the fire. I even remember thinking when I rested my feet to warm that the stones seem surprisingly cool for being so close to the fire. Not my smartest moment. (Definitely made the 15km hike back to civilisation the next day a more memorable experience).

A friend, who's runs a snow sledge safari once told me that the best treatment is to put the patient in a tent, on a mattress, and cover his torso only with blankets and give warm liquid to drink. That way the core temperature is supposed to heat up faster, reducing/removing the dip in core temperature as cold blood starts circulating again. Don't know if sure, haven't tested, and haven't seen it printed in any medical or survival book.


#219417 - 03/16/11 05:52 PM Re: Hypothermia Kit [Re: dweste]
Pete Offline

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1372
Don't forget to ask Beyonce to climb into the bivi sack, when you are trying to warm up. That's a very important step in the process. Ha! Ha!!

Alright, if Beyonce says "No", then you may need to ask one of your fellow team members to help warm you up. This is where you find out whether you really qualify for the "Miss Congeniality" award on your team. Good behavior does payoff!

On a more serious note ... I saw an excellent video about how to survive a fall into freezing water recently. Gosh, I wish I had made a note of that video and who did it. There was a leading hypothermia expert, and one of these TV survival guys. And they were both in an ice-cold pool, surrounded by ice. The expert had a number of really excellent tips about what to do, from the moment you hit the water. Has anyone else seen that video?

other Pete

#220749 - 04/02/11 01:16 AM Re: Hypothermia Kit [Re: dweste]
Paulb Offline

Registered: 08/21/03
Posts: 60
Here are links to a small kit that I favor:

The article

The Kit

The modified em blanket

I've also found that a canteen cup type cooking cup and an esbit/sterno stove to heat coffee/tea/cocoa/broth for a hot beverage (boil kit) is a nice addition or consideration and some folks pointed out an MRE entree with heater would also allow for hot food/bev intake.

#220760 - 04/02/11 01:26 PM Re: Hypothermia Kit [Re: dweste]
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3601
Loc: Ontario, Canada
When hypothermia is a risk, I always take:

**a thermos of hot chocolate

*extra external warmth - extra wool sweater, socks, hat and AMK bivvy.

*extra internal warmth - something to boil water in, (GI canteen cup is my fave), something to sweeten it up (instant hot chocolate), and some high-fat simple carbs (chocolate and trail mix with chocolate are my favorites)
Mom & Adventurer

You can find me on YouTube here:

#220879 - 04/05/11 03:43 AM Re: Hypothermia Kit [Re: bacpacjac]
camerono Offline

Registered: 02/19/05
Posts: 146
Our medical guy wrote a nice article on Hypothermia this month.

I found it interesting.

Hypothermia Prevention, Identification and Treatment Hypothermia Prevention, Identification and Treatment
Publishing seattlebackpackersmagazine.com

#220882 - 04/05/11 05:34 AM Re: Hypothermia Kit [Re: camerono]
MostlyHarmless Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/03/09
Posts: 982
Loc: Norway
Originally Posted By: camerono
Our medical guy wrote a nice article on Hypothermia this month.

I found it interesting.

Hypothermia Prevention, Identification and Treatment

Now THAT is a very well written down-to-earth article. I find nothing to add and nothing I disagree with. A highly recommended read smile

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