A Course for Safe Boating

Chapter 1 u Personal Safety

Hyperthermia Hyper thermia is also called heat exhaustion. This happens when temperatures are high and your body can no longer cool itself. ƒ ƒ Early symptoms of hyper thermia (heat exhaustion) include weakness, pale skin, headache and heavy sweating. If the victim is not treated, his or her skin will become hot and bright red. The victim stops sweating and then loses consciousness or suffers from heat stroke. Heat stroke victims will often talk nonsense or see imaginary things. ƒ ƒ Avoid hyper thermia by avoiding long, direct exposure to heat and sun. When possible, spend time in a cooler location and be sure to drink a lot of water to keep your fluid levels up. Avoid liquids that make you urinate frequently, such as caffeinated sodas, coffee, tea or alcohol—these drinks will lower your fluid levels. ƒ ƒ You can reverse hyper thermia several ways: get the victim out of the sun into a cool place, provide fluids (but not alcohol or caffeine, have the victim shower, bathe or sponge off with cool water, and urge the victim to lie down and rest in a cool place. Hypothermia Hypo thermia happens in very low temperatures when your body loses more heat than it can produce. ƒ ƒ Early symptoms of hypo thermia include feeling cold, shivering, losing your sense of balance, and feeling tired or ill. In severe cases the victim may fight, quarrel or appear to be drunk. If the victim is not treated, he or she will shiver violently, have a high heart rate and will stop thinking clearly. In advanced stages of hypothermia, victims will stop shivering, lose consciousness, have blue skin, and be unable to walk or speak. As this condition gets worse, a victim’s breathing and heart can stop, and the victim may die. ƒ ƒ Avoid hypo thermia by preventing heat loss. The best way to do this is to be properly equipped and clothed. This may include wearing immersion suits, wetsuits, warm synthetic clothing (not cotton) or waterproof clothing. ƒ ƒ Your body temperature can drop quickly if you are in the water. Get as far out of the water as possible by climbing onto any floating object, such as the boat’s hull. This will help prevent heat loss from your body. ƒ ƒ If you can’t get out of the water, keep your head out of the water. Curl into a ball or huddle with other people and limit movement of your arms and legs to further prevent heat loss. These are known as HELP, or Heat Escape Lessening Positions. ƒ ƒ You can easily reverse hypo thermia in the early stages by exercising vigorously to generate body heat, and by limiting your exposure to cold. ƒ ƒ Get medical help except in mild cases, because you can end up with other problems if you don’t warm up properly.



California Boating  A Course for Safe Boating

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