Hypothermia

river partially frozen over with ice
The Bluestone River in winter.

NPS photo/Mark Bollinger

 

Hypothermia is a medical emergency that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce it, causing a dangerously low body temperature. Hypothermia can happen even in the summer, so always be prepared!

Hiking:

You never know what the weather might do, so always be prepared for the possibility of cold and wet weather.

  • Always take an extra pair of dry clothes, especially dry socks. If your cloths become wet, replace them.
  • Always pack a sweater or jacket, warm hat, and rain gear for any hike.
  • Wear clothing that wicks away moisture
  • Avoid sweating by dressing in layers


Boating:

  • No matter how warm it is outside you are likely to get wet, so wear appropriate clothing.
  • Wear quick drying clothing (such as nylon).
  • Also take a quick drying jacket, one made for rain or water.
  • DO NOT wear cotton or jeans. They will hold the water and make you very cold.
  • Have a pair of dry clothes where you will be getting out, including dry socks, shoes, and a jacket.


Symptoms of Hypothermia

  • Uncontrolled shivering
  • Loss of coordination; clumsiness and stumbling
  • Slurring of speech
  • Confusion or difficulty thinking
  • Drowsiness and very low energy
  • Shallow breathing, weak pulse, loss of consciousness.


Treatment

  • Move person out from the cold, take them into a dry warm place.
  • Remove the person’s wet clothing.
  • Cover the person with dry blankets, or coats.
  • If victim is outside place something on the ground underneath them to help warm the body.
  • Monitor breathing; if victim has lost consciousness make sure to contact emergency services.
  • If the person is conscious have then drink warm beverages, non alcoholic with no caffeine.
  • Do not apply direct heat, do not use hot water or a heating pad, the direct heat will damage the skin.

Last updated: February 8, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 246
Glen Jean, WV 25846

Phone:

(304) 465-0508

Contact Us