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Symptoms of hypothermia:

  • Early (35-35.5 degrees): shivering, decreased awareness, unable to think or solve problems, apathy, confusion, skin pale and cool to the touch, numbness (stinging pain), loss of dexterity, deterioration of fine and complex motor skills.
  • Advancing (33.8-34.4): obvious shivering, stumbling, little or no effort to protect oneself, unaware of present situation.
  • Advanced (32.7-33.3): intense shivering, difficult walking, thick or slurred speech, no effort to protect oneself, skin appears ashen gray and cold, possible hallucinations.
  • The death zone (30.5-32.2): shivering comes in waves, unable to walk, speech very difficult to understand. If the core temperature continues to drop, shivering will cease, breathing and pulse will appear absent, and the skin will become blue in colour. Death quickly follows.

Of course, hyperthermia, when the core body temperature is elevated, can be equally deadly. The signs and symptoms are similar. The body is beginning to shut down. Being able to recognize the signs and symptoms of exposure in yourself and others is mandatory, as these are the body’s warning signs that things are getting out of whack on a cellular level.

In immersion, hypothermia is vastly accelerated. Falling into water will speed up your loss of body heat immensely.