HOW TO AVOID HYPOTHERMIA

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland explains the factors that can lead to hypothermia and lists some of the measures you need to take to avoid it

Illustration photo of HOW TO AVOID HYPOTHERMIA

Hypothermia – when body temperature is lowered to dangerous levels – can occur all too easily in the mountains and it's essential that climbers and walkers know how to avoid it and recognise it when they see the signs.

RISK FACTORS OF HYPOTHERMIA

First of all it's best to know when you might be making yourself even more vulnerable to hypothermia. Here are seven factors that can lead to a dangerous scenario:

[1] Sweating while ascending a mountain then cooling and not adding extra layers

[2] Remaining stationary on the hill without adequate clothing and protection

[3] Not fueling the body sufficiently with enough calories and fluids

[4] Going out when fighting off illness or lack of sleep/fatigue

[5] Over-exertion

[6] Wearing layers that don’t wick away moisture, such as cotton-based clothing which absorbs body sweat and moisture from the environment, leaving the wearer cold and damp.

[7] Failing to wear sufficient layering and windproof outer clothing to combat the effects of wind chill

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MEASURES TO AVOID ITS ONSET

Once you've avoided the above risk factors you then need to be actively engaging in the prevention of hypothermia while on the go. Here's what you need to be doing:

[1] Always add an extra layer as you get higher up the mountain

[2] Swap your gloves for a dry pair when you have finished your ascent

[3] Always carry an additional large insulated jacket which will fit on over the top of everything you are wearing and put it on for lunch stops or any other time you're at risk of cooling, such as in descent.

[4] Make sure to eat enough. Even the best clothing can only keep heat in, not generate it.

SPOTTING THE SIGNS

Feeling cold and damp is obviously an early warning sign for hypothermia. A more subtle sign is laziness – not finding the effort to dig in your bag for an extra pair of clothes is an indication that you are not following the right rationale.

If these signs are unchecked, mild symptoms can then develop into irritability and irrational behaviour, poor decision making and, ultimately, collapse and even death.

Head to the Mountaineering Council of Scotland's website HERE for more information on avoiding and dealing with hypothermia.