Hypothermia Presentation

This Wednesday I am giving an hour presentation to about 15 college students about hypothermia. I was just looking to tap into the knowledge of fellow paddlers to see if you guys knew of any videos or activites that I could use to teach about the danger of and preventing hypothermia. I would especially like an activity we could do outdoors here in Michigan. Anyone have any ideas??

Check “Guidelines” for the article on cold weather paddling.

Prof Popsicle
His videos are second to none:


yes And…
his vids are terrific,

however, they are not designed for kayakers, and do not detail the effects of plunging one’s head upside down in frigid waters, and the ferocious dangers of gasp reflex while being upside down in the kayak.

try www.atlantickaykatours.com and there very well detailed section on cold water immersion dangers.

Stay warm out there!


Thanks for the Prof. Posicle links. Those videos have some great info in them. The only problem is that the picture is horrible. Does anyone know where I can find a better video file so it will show up better.

Like I said too, this isn’t a paddling related lecture. Just overall hypothermia.

book ref. among others
The Basic Essentials of Hypothermia, by William Forgey, MD had some good case histories and effects. Included the 7 Fins whose boat sank, were rescued, and succumbed in the Galley of the rescuing boat from incorrect warming. Good easy to read reference.

candle and garbage bag??
I was looking through the archives here at Paddling.net to see if I could find any activities for teaching this hypothermia lesson. I can across the following and found it interesting. Do you think this would work well??

“One trick for a quick warm up I learned from friends who are cavers, is to cut a hole in the bottom of a trashbag, pull that over your head, place a lighted a candle between your feet and squat over the candle.

A variation I have used is to sit with legs folded, lighted candle placed in the space between the legs with a wool blanket wrapped around your body. Candle and all. The effect is of a small warm shelter. The temperature can be adjusted by opening and closing the blanket.”

A Candle Lantern
and a space blanket. See the Watertribe site for more ideas.

Reading this with interest
as I would like to do a presentation with boy scouts sometime soon…

I will email you my presenation outline once I get it done and tweaked if you are interested.

Still looking for activity ideas… Please help!

That would be fantastic!
Boys do best with activities…and I had not come across anythiing yet until now with the coin and bucket. I was thinking I might have to make up some sort of game with the “facts”.

Winter Camping
I have done a lot of winter camping and guided groups.

The number one item I have to repeat continually is STAY DRY. This may seem easy when the snow is flying and everything is frozen. However, sweat can be a killer and snow melting on clothing makes your gear difficult to use.

We always outfitted (supplied) everyone with extra (replacement) boots liners, wool mitten liners for choppers and socks. We also strongly encouraged evryone change their long underwear before sleeping every night. Few people would try the best recommendation of stripping down to the buff (inside the sleeping bag).

For a demo:

First, take a pair of Sorel boots (or anything similar) with the pull out liners and get the liners damp (from hiking all day).

Second, let one boot freeze with the liner inside (being squished shut adds emphasis), and let the other boot freeze with the liner pulled out and something holding them open (like a pair of mittens).

And finish with having somebody try to put the boots puts on. Frozen leather is difficult to open up and wear.

The moral:

Boot frozen with frozen liner inside - useless.

Boot frozen with frozen liner outside - cold, but usable.

Boot frozen with dry liner outside - warms up quickly and the camper keeps his toes!

Another note, 30 degrees F is much more dangerous than -20 degress F. The warmer temperature creates a false sense of security.

Other notes:

Drink plenty (lots) of water. Dehydration can be a problem.

No caffeine (no chocolate, no coffee). Causes aspiration (opening of the pores) and makes perspiration easier. Which lowers body temp.

big danger
Cotton kills. Every year good paddlers freeze to death on a warm day in cold water. Stand in front of fan outdoors. Get hit with water outdoors. Tough to make kids part with jeans and t-shirt for polypro. Lift wet polypro from tub. Lift wet jeans and t-shirt from tub. CO2 from fire in tent. Neat large shelter is to put 12 ft post across crotch of 2 trees about 11 ft apart then cover with plastic as a tent shelter. Trim wood so as not to puncture plastic. Fire at one end of shelter that is open. Learn to cook meat and jiffy popcorn outdoors. Maybe pizza in long handled clamps that open. And of course marshmallows. Avoiding hyperthermia is sometimes done with dry polypro in gallon jug in backpack. You are a good man for trying !

try the Discovery Channel
There is a video produced on the Discovery Channel by a doctor who skiied into ice water and showed viewers what would happen to them and what to do.

How’d it go? (nm)

practical kayaking
the movie “practical kayaking” has a chapter on hypothermia.

Presentation Outline
Sorry guys, I meant to let you know how the presentation went. I want to thank everyone for their help in finding materials and coming up with activities for me to do. The presentation went very well. I made sure I wasn’t standing in one place lecturing too long. Lot’s of hands on and group participation. If you want any help planning a hypothermia presentation in the future email me and I will be glad to help. The following is a rough presentation outline I put together. It lasted about an hour.


  1. Moving Pennies in water experiment
  • What is Hypothermia

    • Inner body temperature of less than 98.6 degrees.

    • Problem cause by inability to maintain heat:

  • Direct transfer of heat by contact with a cooler object - conduction of heat to the cooler object

  • Cool air moving across the surface of the body, heat transferred to the cool air, warming it and cooling the body

  • Heat radiated outward from the warm body to the cooler environment

  • The loss of heat through the process of removing water from the surface of the body through vaporization

  • Inspired air raised to body temperature and then exhaled

  1. Video by Professor Popsicle (9 minutes)

  2. Proper Layering
  • Prevention & Treatments

    • Shelter

    • Hot Drink / Warm Fire

    • Human Burrito

  1. Trash bag and candle lantern activity
  • Symptoms

    • Shivering

    • Disoriented

    • Appear Drunk

    • Unconscious and stiff
  1. Hot Chocolate Break

  2. Group discussions

  • What would you do when:

    • You are in your stalled car with blizzard conditions.

    • You are ice fishing and fall through the ice.

How’d it go? (nm)

Oops. Ignore (nm)