Some of the most common and dangerous risks to riders result from exposure to extreme weather. Hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce it, causing your core body temperature to fall. Hypothermia is often induced by cold, wet conditions, such as rain, snow, sleet, or immersion in water.
- Extreme cold
- Use of alcohol, drugs or caffeine
- Slower metabolic rates, as in older people
- Other medical conditions
- Hypothermia can be prevented by dressing properly, by avoiding potentially dangerous weather conditions, and by drying out as quickly as possible when you get wet.
- High-calorie foods, such as chocolate, peanuts, or raisins, provide quick energy that helps your body produce heat.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Hypothermia
- Uncontrolled shivering—usually the first obvious symptom, but ceases as hypothermia progresses
- Slow, slurred speech
- Memory loss
- Irrational behavior, such as removing clothing
- Lack of body movement
- Unconsciousness, which could lead to death
- Find shelter for the hypothermia victim.
- Avoid unnecessary movement. If you need to move the victim, do so slowly and gently. Do not allow the person to walk unless absolutely necessary.
- Remove wet clothing, and replace with dry clothing and other protective covering. If there is no dry clothing, use a fire to dry one layer at a time.
- Give warm liquids to re-hydrate and re-warm, but never give the victim alcohol to drink. Quick-energy foods also produce inner body heat.
- For mild cases, use fire, blankets, or another person's body heat to warm up the victim slowly.
- In more advanced stages, re-warm the victim slowly by placing one or more persons in body contact with the victim. Place canteens of hot water insulated with socks or towels on the groin, armpits, and sides of the neck of the victim.
- If the victim is semiconscious, try to keep him or her awake. Do not immerse the victim in a warm bath or expose the individual to a large fire, which can lead to traumatic shock.
- Evacuate the victim to a hospital immediately.