It is February in the Flathead Valley and until lately winter has not
been nearly as severe as it could be. It’s easy to actually dismiss things as
mild and we can go about our day because the snow isn’t piled up. That is a fair assessment. But what
if you have to live in the elements?
Did you know it doesn’t have to be brutally cold to
experience hypothermia? If a person suffers ongoing exposure to even 70 degrees without thermal protection and food or nutrients, he or she can
become hypothermic. Honestly, some of the most dangerous environmental
situations occur in temperate climates when the temperature drops suddenly.
It is essential to try and recognize early symptoms of
hypothermia is. There are three stages of hypothermia related to the body’s
• Mild hypothermia, 90°–95°. This is when heart and
respiratory rates increase. Other indicators are, hyperventilation, difficulty
walking, slurred speech, impaired judgment, pronounced shivering, and frequent
• Moderate hypothermia, 82°–90°. During this stage, a
person experiences a lowered pulse, shallow breathing and slowed respiratory
rate, slowed reflexes, shivering stops, confusion and disorientation, common
cardiac arrhythmias, and paradoxical undressing.
• Severe hypothermia, less than 82°. The most
advanced stage is evidenced by hypotension, slow pulse, pulmonary edema, coma,
ventricular arrhythmias (including ventricular fibrillation), and possible
asystole or “flat line” EKG.
At the shelter, cold weather contingency plans are in place and we hope to get everyone in from the cold that needs it.
Please remember those who either live in the elements or
spend great portions of their days outdoors in the winter. We welcome donations
and right now warm hats, coats and socks can go a long way in helping save