Wednesday, October 15, 2008
More than a foot of snow fell on Lander during the past week. It's that time of year when many beloved myths experience a rebirth. One of my favorites says something like this: If you fall into icy water, you might as well give up since hypothermia will kill you in minutes. It just ain't so. What does happen, and how you should respond, is summed up in the words "one minute--ten minutes--one hour," a slogan created by Gordon Giesbrecht, Ph.D., the guru of cold. After a plunge into very cold water, use to first minute to calm yourself and control your breathing. Those who don't are the ones who panic and drown. You then have approximately 10 minutes of useful movement. Use that time attempting to get out of the water or at least figuring out how to stabilize yourself. After 10 minutes, you should remain still to reduce heat loss. You have about one hour before you'll lose consciousness from hypothermia. If you're wearing a PFD, another hour or so will pass before your heart stops from the cold. One-ten-one. Remember it. And for more information read Hypothermia, Frostbite and Other Cold Injuires by Giesbrecht and his co-author James A. Wilkerson, M.D. (www.mountaineersbooks.org).