UK Club’s Crew health director, Sophia Bullard, explains why hypothermia remains a challenging issue, the impact it has on seafarers, as well as proposes measures to prevent and treat this condition.
She notes that the symptoms of hypothermia are:
Shivering, exhaustion, confusion, memory loss, slurred speech, and trembling hands are prevalent symptoms. However, these symptoms can also occur with a huge range of other conditions, so it’s important to assess environmental factors. These include how long the person has been exposed to cold or whether they have been involved in an accident.
She adds that because of the nature of their vocation, seafarers are often exposed to the elements and sub-zero conditions. This can result in their body losing heat faster than it can produce it, and with core temperature dropping below 35°C, hypothermia is extremely likely.
The main reasons causing hypothermia are wearing wet or inappropriate clothes for the environment, drinking alcohol or taking drugs that causes blood to cool more quickly, as well as major trauma.
Moreover, in case a crewmembers suffers from hypothermia, Mrs. Bullard advises that the first step is to begin assessment and treatment. Yet, if the person having the symptoms is conscious, remove any wet clothing and wrap them in a blanket, sleeping bag or something similar.
She highlights that you have to cover their head but not their face, and as long as they’re able to manage their own airway, give them a warm drink.
Mrs. Bullard concludes that
If the individual is unconscious, assess their breathing and if it’s undetectable begin CPR and continue the rewarming process. In some cases, hypothermic victims who are rewarmed can be successfully resuscitated.