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Site Contents

Heatstroke
(or "Sunstroke")

Exposure to high temperature may lead either to excessive fluid loss and dehypovolemic shock (heat exhaustion) or to failure of heat mechanisms and dangerous hyperpyrexia (heatstroke)

Common sense is the best preventive; strenuous exertion in a very hot environment and insulating clothing should be avoided, and an adequate fluid intake is important.

Heatstroke is the opposite of Hypothermia, and is sometimes known as Sunstroke.

An abrupt onset is sometimes preceded by headache, vertigo, and fatigue. Sweating is usually, but not always decreased, and the skin is hot, flushed, and usually dry. The pulse rate increases rapidly and may reach 160; respirations usually increase, but the blood pressure is seldom affected. Disorientation may briefly precede unconsciousness or convulsions. The temperature climbs rapidly to 105.8F (41C) and the patient feels as if burning up. Circulatory collapse may precede death; after hours of extreme hyperpyrexia, survivors are likely to have permanent brain damage.

Old age, debility, or alcoholism worsens the prognosis.

Treatment must begin immediately. If distant from a hospital, the patient should be wrapped in wet bedding or clothing, immersed in a lake or stream. The temperature should be taken every 10 minutes and not allowed to fall below 100.4F (38C) to avoid converting hyperpyrexia to hypothermia. [??]

The patient should be taken to hospital as soon as possible after the emergency methods have been instituted for further management.

Bed rest is desirable for a few days after severe heatstroke, and unstable temperatures may be expected for weeks.

See Also:

Heatstroke

Mountain Safety

The ability to navigate accurately and efficiently in all conditions - particularly low visibility - and on all types of terrain is the single most important skill an outdoors person can possess. There is no mystique about good navigation (although it does take a little practice). Despite this, many campers still take to the hills with inadequate map and compass skills, and navigational error remains the single greatest contributory factor to incidents resulting in Mountain Rescue callouts.

Discourage people from constructing or adding to cairns (piles of rocks which serve as rudimentary route markers). Not only do they look unsightly, but also they can encourage the ill-prepared and inexperienced to venture further into the mountains than may be wise, with a false sense of security. Instead, inexperienced hikers are encouraged to either learn to navigate, or go with experienced guides.

To get the most from your day in the mountains you will probably wish to spend some time in advance deciding on the most suitable route. Factors to be considered include:

bulletDistance and height gain of route, and time required for completion.
bulletThe amount of daylight available and estimated time of return.
bulletThe size, fitness and experience of group.
bulletNature of the terrain, and possible conditions underfoot (e.g.. ice).
bulletPossible escape routes.
bulletThe local weather forecast, and poor weather alternatives.

You may wish to prepare a detailed route card, you should also let someone know your intended route and your estimated time of return. Do not forget to notify this person of your safe return! 

If you leave word of your intended route, it also goes without saying that you should stick to your plan, unless, of course, you feel that this will place you or your Patrol at risk.

When selecting the best route line during your walk there are many obvious dangers to be avoided, such as cliff tops in windy weather and icy slopes, however you should also be conscious of less obvious hazards. This includes such things as grassy slopes and lichen covered rock slabs, which may look innocent, but which can be every bit as dangerous as the more obvious hazards, particularly in wet weather.

It is a good idea to get into the habit of asking yourself how great are the chances of a slip, and what the likely consequences of that slip might be. Remember that a simple slip is the cause of a large proportion of serious wilderness accidents.

If you are on a slope where rocks could potentially be dislodged, keep your group bunched tightly together so that any dislodged rocks do not have the opportunity to build momentum, but can be stopped immediately by the person behind. Be particularly aware of the danger you may pose to other groups below you, and of the danger you may be facing from careless groups above you. If a rock is accidentally dislodged, the standard procedure is to shout "Rock!" or "Below!" as a warning to all others.

As a general rule of thumb you should always pack with the assumption that you may end up having to stay out after dark, even if it is through no fault of your own (for example you may be required to help another hiker in distress). Try to be an asset and not a burden to any group that you are a part of. A minimum list of equipment to carry on a day's hike includes the following:

bulletWaterproof jacket and pants
bulletHiking boots
bulletPlenty of warm clothing (nylon or fleece, but not cotton)
bulletHat and gloves
bulletMap and compass (and the ability to use them!)
bulletFood and fluids (and spare food!)
bulletSpace blanket and a large orange garbage bag
bulletFirst aid kit (including pencil and waterproof paper if possible)
bulletFlashlight (+ spare battery and bulb)
bulletWhistle
bulletBackpack

See Also:

Hike Planning

Temperature decreases with altitude, at a rate of approximately 2-3C per 300 meters height gained (known as the lapse rate). In reality, what this means for the hiker is that the temperature on the mountain tops may be as much as 10C lower than that at the valley floors, and when increased wind-chill is taken into consideration, winter temperatures may fall as low as -4F (-20C). These are severe conditions indeed, and require the best of equipment just to survive.

Precipitation on the other hand increases with altitude, and may be up to 300% greater than in neighboring lowlands. Mountain rivers can become raging torrents extremely quickly, and what was crossable in the morning may not necessarily be crossable on your return in the evening. Drowning may not appear on most hikers' lists of potential dangers but it does happen and should be regarded as a very real danger.  If in doubt, do not attempt to cross!

Mist and fog present obvious complications for navigation, and can appear surprisingly quickly in the mountains.

Despite all the best preparations, the wilderness is hazardous and unforgiving, and accidents can happen at any time. It is also possible that you may find yourself first on the scene of an accident involving another party.

When things do go wrong, above all else Stay Calm! Think Clearly! Think Logically!

The initial time you spend assessing the situation is critical. If early decisions are rushed, you may pay the price later. By its nature, Mountain Rescue is a slow business, so do not be afraid to take as long as necessary to think your situation through and decide on the best course of action. Making the right decisions at this stage may well save time in the long run.

If a Search and Rescue Team needs to be called out, try to send at least two competent Patrol members to raise the alarm, with a written note explaining the nature of the problem, the number of people involved, the exact location (both with a 6-figure grid reference and a written description), and your intended course of action. Consider carrying a pre-prepared blank incident report form and casualty card on waterproof paper in your first aid kit, which can be filled in when needed

To call a Mountain Rescue Team, dial 911 and ask for Search and Rescue. The messengers may be required to wait by the phone for further instructions, and may be used to guide the Team to the exact location of the incident, so they should be the fittest group members if possible.

Be prepared for a long wait: including the time it takes for your messengers to reach a phone, the team callout and assembly time, and the time required for the team to walk to your location with heavy equipment. 

You may decide that if there is a danger of hypothermia it is best to evacuate most of the party and leave a small group remaining with the casualty. You may also decide that it is necessary to move the casualty to a more sheltered or safer location (if so, ensure that someone will be on hand to guide the Team to your new location).

Consider how your group members or passers-by can best be deployed, and how the equipment carried by the group can best be redistributed and utilized. Consider 'alternative' uses for the equipment you are carrying, for example camera flashes can be used to attract attention in the dark, a rope laid out along the ground will maximize your chances of being located in poor visibility, and a survival bag can be used for attracting attention. The standard distress signal is three sharp whistle blasts (or flashlight flashes) followed by a one minute silence, repeated.

Don't lose touch with common sense when coming to any decisions!

A good piece of kit to carry in the wilderness is flashing red strobe light used on bicycles as rear lights. They can be seen over a great distance at night.

Stream Crossings

Crossing rivers and streams can be perilous and unpleasant, but with proper steps can be fun and safe. It can be even more dangerous crossing water if a person has poor balance and a lack of confidence at it. Here are a few safety tips:

  1. Always unsnap your backpack straps - if you go down you can rid yourself of your pack and avoid being drowned by its weight.
  2. Wear sandals, lightweight camp shoes with decent tread, or aqua socks to protect your feet from cuts and general pain from sharp rocks.
  3. Choose your crossing site carefully. If you can safely boulder hop, go for it, but be alert to slippery surfaces. This is no place or time to break an ankle. If boulder hopping cannot be accomplished safely, go to the water. Generally speaking, deeper but slower flowing water is safer to cross than shallow, swift moving waters. Avoid narrow channels where waters usually flow faster and with more turbulence. Test the water's "pace." Remember that the added weight and top-heavy traits of your pack make you far less agile than you might be accustomed to. Be very careful.
  4. Walk facing upstream - towards the rushing water. Walk sideways. Use your staff as a third leg. Move slowly and deliberately, while leaning your weight slightly forward and against your staff.
  5. Roping or shuttling (bucket brigade style) packs across might work

as well. Always carry critical gear and clothing in waterproof bags. The first time you topple into the water, you'll understand why!

Safety Precautions for Swimmers
"PADBALLS"

bulletPhysical Fitness:  Every swimmer must prove that he is fit and able to swim.  An adult should be in possession of and familiar with a health history from a physician or guardian for every swimmer.
bulletAbility Groups: Know your own swimming ability as well as those in the Patrol. If there are any non-swimmers do not allow these individuals into the water past their waist.
bulletDiscipline: All simmers should be aware of the rules and follow the directions of the Lifeguard and Lookout without exception.
bulletBuddy System: Never swim alone; always use the "buddy system".
bulletAdult Supervision: A qualified adult must be present at all times.  If a member of the Patrol or Troop is noticed missing or lost, bring it to the attention of someone (preferably an adult leader) immediately. Reporting a person missing as soon as possible increases the chances of them being located unharmed.
bulletLifeguard: Try, whenever possible, to swim where a trained lifeguard is present.
bulletLookout: When you bring members of your Patrol to any swimming area, make certain to have one person responsible for keeping his eyes on them at all times. In many cases the swimming area is very populated. If a Patrol or Troop is brought, a "head count" every 10 - 15 minutes can be very beneficial.
bulletSafe Area: Be aware of your surroundings. Know the depth of the water, direction of current, strength of current, and any objects in the water.  Only swim in designated areas. Do not swim where swimming is not allowed.

The Traditional Handbook

 

 

   

 

 


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Last modified: October 15, 2016.