Think layers, plenty of layers

You have cabin fever, and the Kiwanis Ski Club has the cure.

It comes in the form of 50 or so skiers from eight countries leaping from a 10-story scaffold, flying at 55 mph for three city blocks, and landing gracefully to the cheers of delighted spectators.

Thousands of ski jumping fans will converge on giant Pine Mountain this weekend for the 2014 Bellin Health Pine Mountain Continental Cup Ski Jumping Competition.

Visitors and area residents will be eager to get outside to enjoy the sport, the atmosphere, and to visit with neighbors and friends.

After surviving the subzero weather we’ve experienced lately, weekend temperatures in the teens will feel like springtime.

Don’t let the sunshine and the festive atmosphere fool you. Twelve to 14 degrees is still pretty cold, and ski jumping fans need to be prepared to stand for couple of hours in wintry weather conditions.

Think layers, plenty of layers.

Hypothermia is the loss of body temperature. It is dangerous and is the most common reason for outdoor deaths listed as “caused by exposure.”

As with all warm-blooded creatures, the human body requires a certain body temperature to function and can maintain that temperature – about 98.6 degrees – under “normal” conditions.

When body heat is lost more rapidly than the body is generating it, hypothermia occurs.

At 96 degrees – just two degrees colder – one begins to shiver and shortly loses the ability to perform complicated tasks.

At 91 degrees, the victim is uncoordinated, he stumbles, slurs his speech and can’t think well.

At 86 degrees, the victim begins to act irrationally.

At 81 degrees, the victim is in a stupor; a bit colder, he is unconscious. At 78 degrees, death is near.

Obviously, an unprepared person caught without proper clothing could be in serious trouble in an hour or so.

Preventing hypothermia is, of course, the best treatment.

Older people especially must beware of the cold even when they are inside their homes because they are more susceptible to hypothermia. They are advised to layer their garments even indoors, if necessary.

Other individuals venturing outdoors must prepare accordingly.

– Dress in layers. Layers of clothing trap more air and keep you warmer than one heavy garment.

– Carry enough clothing to keep you comfortable under the coldest conditions expected. Wind resistant outerwear should be part of the day’s wardrobe.

– Remember adequate headgear. You can lose up to half of your body’s heat through an unprotected head and neck.

– Stay dry. Getting wet greatly accelerates heat loss, and most fabrics lose insulating properties when wet. Wool is preferred because it retains a measure of its insulating ability when wet.

– Take along high-energy snack food such as candy or trail mix to help your body generate heat.

– Learn the signs of oncoming hypothermia, which are shivering, clumsiness, and slurred speech.

Should someone show these symptoms, take immediate measure to get him warm – into shelter, away from wind and insulated from the cold ground. Get the victim’s wet clothes off and put him into a sleeping bag or blanket near a source of heat.

Give a conscious victim warm liquids and food. Do not give alcohol as it impairs the body’s heat regulatory mechanisms.

Frostbite is another cold weather danger.

It occurs when cellular fluid, skin and tissue beneath the skin freezes after exposure to cold air.

Skin that becomes red and then pale, or with yellowish-white spots probably is frostbitten. Mild frostbite can be treated by heating the affected areas with warm hands.

Frostbitten hands can be warmed by placing them under your armpits.

Severe cases of frostbite are characterized by bluish or purplish skin, swelling, large blisters and blood clots.

Deep frostbite can affect skin all the way to the bone, and requires immediate medical attention.

Stay warm and safe at Pine Mountain.