May 23, 2024

The scenery was stunning, the weather was perfection, the hike up Big Bear Mountain was exhilarating, the icy-cold breeze making me shiver as I trekked through snow – not my cup of tea.

At one point during my hike, my companions and I were able to overlook the lake and town the mountain towered over. Seeing the frozen lake reminded me of a conversation I had earlier that had informed me of those who thought it smart to walk out on the frozen lake, which was not frozen enough.

Walking on an icy trail up a mountain-side was a great way to spend my day, but as I looked out over the lake, I wondered how awful it would be to fall into it as many others had before. One word came to mind – Hypothermia.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes hypothermia as when a person’s body reaches a subnormal temperature, which eventually drops one’s internal core temperature and then slows and stops organ function.

This is a very dangerous and frightening condition to be in, not many people who reside in warmer climates or who live in sea level homes need to worry about such an occurrence. However, the kind of know-how necessary to save someone once hypothermia becomes a possibility is crucial.

“The first thing you want to do is to begin the warming process,” said Capt. Matthew P. Topoleski, San Bernardino City Fire Dept.

According to Topoleski, the first thing one should do to begin saving someone from the effects of hypothermia would be to remove the source of the cold and bring them to the closest source of heat.

“If the source of freezing is cold, wet clothes, you would want to remove the most clothes necessary and find a way of warming the person,” said Topoleski. “Last resort would be to warm the person with human body heat.”

According to Topoleski, it is important not to warm the hypothermic person too quickly. Warming the person too quickly could cause cardiac arrest, as rapidly warming someone in that state could circulate the colder blood and cool the vital central areas of the body.

“911 should be called immediately once the person is out of immediate danger, an EMT would be able to take over once an ambulance arrived,” said Topoleski.

Even if someone does not live in a place where hypothermia could easily become a threat, there may always be that trip or that vacation where the circumstances are flipped.

The steps in order to save someone who is in danger of becoming hypothermic are crucial things to know, it could save a life.

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