How to Deal with Hypothermia while Hiking
Hypothermia is a very common condition in Iceland as our temperatures rarely reach above 20 degrees Celsius on even the hottest summer days. The nearly constant wind blowing in Iceland also creates a wind chill factor that must always be factored into clothing and equipment decisions. This means that no matter the season you need to be prepared for the elements.
When hiking in Iceland you need to take extra care to manage your body temperature. If you wear too many layers while hiking you will sweat and then subsequently cool down very rapidly when you stop. To avoid this situation you need to layer down BEFORE you get too warm so you can minimize sweating. Once you stop you should immediately put on a warmer layer so that you don´t cool down too much while not moving. The fabrics you choose will also impact your comfort level. We recommend wearing wool and synthetic fabrics and NEVER wearing cotton clothing while hiking.
What are the three stages of hypothermia?
Stage one: Shivering
Stage two: Slurred speech, slow or weak pulse, slowed breathing, clumsiness, irritability, confusion, and tiredness
Stage three: Slowed breathing and loss of consciousness
What to do if someone is showing signs of hypothermia?
- Keep them dry (the body loses heat much faster when wet or in water)
- Dress them in more layers (preferably wool or insulating layers)
- Give them a warm beverage
- Huddle next to them to share body heat
Before setting off make sure that everyone in your party is familiar with the signs and symptoms of hypothermia. During your hike make sure that everyone is keeping an eye on each other and monitoring for beginning symptoms of hypothermia.