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HYPOTHERMIA



Hypothermia can be loosely defined as a subnormal temperature within the central core of the body, and in the worst cases an individual can even face death. Hypothermia occurs when a warm-blooded creature is loosing body heat in water that is lower than the bodies core temperature. It's important to realize that cold water takes heat from the body 30 times faster than air. Taking the proper precautions when diving to prevent hypothermia is necessary to the survival of an individual.


When in danger of hypothermia, one must decrease the probability of becoming hypothermic. There are several ways to minimize heat loss in cold water conditions. First of all, one of the most important things is to remember not to remove your clothes, and cover your head if possible. This diagram demonstrates the best thing to do when with a group of people or if your by yourself. It can commonly be called the "H.E.L.P" position and the "huddle" as illustrated below:

Another key method to prevent the likeliness of hypothermia is to devote all your efforts to getting out of water. Also, equally important is to resist movement in the water. Following these survival tips will reduce the possibility of hypothermia.


If one were to becoming hypothermic, there are different stages of hypothermia. The first stage is mild hypothermia, which occurs when the bodies, core temperature drops form 34.3 to 32.5 degrees. The symptoms include: feeling considerably cold, feeling a little discombobulated, slight shivering and the occurrence of frequent Goosebumps. The most serious and dangerous case of hypothermia is severe hypothermia, in which your body temperature drops to below 32.5 degrees. In this case death is likely. An ironic symptom of severe hypothermia is the warm sensations throughout you body and all shivering comes to an end. The organs in the body begin to slow, and eventually one will go unconscious. This chart shows expected cold water survival:


Temperature Fahrenheit----------Exhaustion/Unconscious-----------Expected Survival

32.5------------------------------------- <15 min. ---------------------------- 10 to 45 min.
32.5 - 40------------------------------ 15 - 30 min. -------------------------- 39 to 90 min.
40 - 50-------------------------------- 30 - 60 min. ------------------------- 1 to 3 Hours
50 - 60--------------------------------- 1 - 2 Hours ------------------------- 1 to 6 Hours
60 -70--------------------------------- 2 - 7 Hours -------------------------- 2 to 40 Hours
70 -80-------------------------------- 3 -12 Hours ------------------------- 3 to Indefinitely
Over 80--------------------------------- Indefinitely -------------------------- Indefinitely


Keeping safe in the water is of great importance, so is using the proper insulators for diving in cold water. A common insulator that divers usually use is a neoprene wetsuit, or a dry suit to contain body heat. A natural insulator in everyone's body (but some more than others) is body fat. So, you can say that "larger" people have also slight advantage in cold water. A cotton T-shirt can even provide a small amount of insulation when worn under a dry suit. There are many insulators that a diver might want to consider before diving in cold water.


Hypothermia is a very dangerous condition and can be in some cases fatal. By taking the proper pre-cautions, a diver can lead a successful dive, hypothermia free!

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