LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraskans enjoying the outdoors this winter should take precautions to avoid hypothermia.
Hypothermia is a low body temperature most often is caused by exposure to cold weather or immersion in a cold body of water. Left untreated, hypothermia can lead to complete failure of the heart and respiratory system and to death. Primary treatments for hypothermia are methods to warm the body back to a normal temperature.
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission suggests hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts dress warmly in layers of clothing that may be added or removed as necessary. Warm hats, gloves or mittens and boots will prevent heat loss through the top of the head, hands and feet. Anglers should wear a life vest on the ice.
Hypothermia can affect judgment, which is critical to hunters handling loaded firearms and anglers venturing onto potentially unsafe ice.
Symptoms of moderate to severe hypothermia include:
— Clumsiness, lack of coordination, stumbling, slurred speech
— Confusion, difficulty thinking or poor decision making
— Drowsiness or very low energy
— Gradual loss of consciousness
— Weak pulse
— Slow, shallow breathing
A person with hypothermia usually is not aware of his or her condition, because the symptoms often begin gradually and because the confused thinking associated with hypothermia prevents self-awareness.