|DNR NEWS - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 10, 2002
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wants Minnesota
outdoor enthusiasts to take extra precautions during cold weather to
avoid suffering cold-related illnesses such as frostbite or
"With increasing numbers of people participating in fall and
winter activities, the total reported cases of accidental hypothermia
are difficult to estimate," said DNR Enforcement Division Director
Bill Bernhjelm. "Although no actual statistics are available, one
cannot forget to be concerned or to take proper precautions."
Hypothermia occurs when the body's temperature falls below
normal. Early mild symptoms include shivering, slurred speech, mental
slowness or lethargy, and muscular stiffness and clumsiness. Symptoms of
severe hypothermia include mental confusion, disorientation, stupor or
coma, absence of shivering, stiff or rigid muscles, shallow and very
slow breathing, weak pulse and a fall in blood pressure. If symptoms are
detected, especially in the elderly, medical help should be sought
immediately. Hypothermia can occur both in water and on land.
To help prevent hypothermia, the DNR suggests the following
* wear several layers of warm, loose-fitting clothes
* avoid the use of alcoholic beverages
* eat hot, nutritious meals
* change into dry clothes
* know how to build a fire and take along proper fire-starting
* look for shelter and keep out of the wind.
Frostbite can be dangerous, especially when the wind chill
factor is very low. Symptoms of frostbite include changes in skin
appearance such as numbness, stiffness or rigidity, swelling, and
reddish, bluish or whitish coloring. If untreated, frostbite can lead to
loss of frozen fingers, toes or other affected skin areas. To prevent
frostbite, protect skin from direct exposure to cold air and from
exposure to intensely cold wind.
To help prevent hypothermia or frostbite, outdoor enthusiasts
should always be prepared. The DNR suggests that, even in mild
temperatures, people carry appropriate supplies, have regular check-in
times with companions, and wear clothing appropriate for weather
conditions that might be encountered. Other equipment recommended by
the DNR includes extra warm clothing, water, food, fire-building
materials, a map, and a compass or GPS equipment.
"Basic survival tips are taught in Firearms Safety, Snowmobile
Safety and Advanced Hunter
Education programs," Bernhjelm said.
"Attending one of these courses could save a life."