Scuba diving and hypothermia

Halfway through autumn, winter is almost knocking on our doors. For the scuba diver (in the Netherlands) this means icy winds, temperatures around or below freezing point and even icier waters. Scuba diving during winter time has it's adventures but also its risks. One of those risks is hypothermia. The situation in which you have an abnormally / dangerously low body temperature. What are the symptoms of hypothermia and how to help your fellow scuba diver afflicted by hypothermia.

The symptoms of hypothermia

  • An outburst of energy followed apathy
  • A slowed reaction, non responsive on questions or directions
  • Sudden heavy chills
  • Loss of coordination and muscles
  • Loss of eyesight
  • Unconsciousness

Main causes of hypothermia
It's good to know that hypothermia can be caused not only by scuba diving in cold waters, but also on shore:

  • Wind and rain
  • Water temperatures below 26 degrees Celsius
  • Cold airflow alongside the body
  • A low temperature in combination with fog, dew or snow
  • Exhaustion
  • When you don't eat enough

First Aid for hypothermia

  • Continuously check breathing and circulation
  • Protect the victim from the weather conditions
  • Prevent further loss of body heat
  • Remove wet clothing and exchange for dry clothing
  • When consciousness give warm sweet drinks
  • Keep victim from the ground
  • Warm up the following places: stomach, armpits, lower back, backside of the neck, wrists and inside of the thighs
  • Always warm the body from inside out!
  • Never rub someone warm!
  • Make sure to call an ambulance, people who have professional experience in dealing with these kind of situations.
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