offshore safety - page 5

4.5 Clothing

Sailing clothing is worn to create a suitable environment for you to operate in whether the conditions are hot, cold or wet. This challenging since the same clothing often has to put up with times of inactivity, intense activity and breaking waves. 

Staying dry is important. Over long periods, dampness from rain, waves or sweat causes coldness, sores and infection. A layered system of clothing is an eefective way of regulating heat and staying warm. Each layer traps air, and insulate the body. Breathable waterproof clothing allows perspiration to escape instead of turning to sweat and cooling your body. 

Regadless of the period that you are planning to go for sailing, you should always need to have waterproof clothes on board. 

Dehydration

Symptoms:

  • Mild - thirst, dry lips, dark urine color. Remedy: rehydrate with water and electrolyte solutions.

  • Moderate - partial heatstroke. Very dry mouth, sunken eyes, skin looses elasticity. Remedy: Rehydrate with water and electrolyte solutions. Constant Watch - seek medical attention and guidance.

  • Severe - heatstroke. All of above plus rapid, weak pulse, rapid breathing, confused, lethargic. Remedy: Rehydrate and get medical attention quickly. An IV will be needed.

Hypothermia

Hypothermia ensues when the body temperature falls below 95 °F (35 °C). It can occur without freezing temperatures, because a combination of cold, wind, and water can work synergistically to reduce body temperatures. Decreased core temperatures cause a gradual cessation of all body functions. An initial drop of only one or two degrees triggers the shivering response, followed by clumsiness, stumbling, slow reactions, confusion, and difficulty in speaking. The patient may be unaware that this is happening.

When the body temperature reaches 90 ° F (32.2 °C), shivering ceases, and the muscles become rigid in an attempt to produce heat. Breathing and pulse rate decrease, and mental abilities diminish further, leading to coma, ventricular fibrillation, and death when the temperature approaches 80 °F (26.7 °C).

Hypothermia occurs most often to mariners who become wet from rain or spray with cold, windy conditions for extended periods of time. These are usually acute cases, and relatively easy to treat. Submersion hypothermia in near-drowning victims is far more serious because the person is not only hypoxic from lack of oxygen, but is subjected to the complications of lowered body temperature as well.

Hypothermia first-aid

  • Keep victim horizontal.

  • Move the victim to a sheltered, warm, dry area.

  • Allow them to urinate from horizontal position.

  • Handle them gently.

  • Remove wet clothes - cutting them off if necessary.

  • Apply mild heat (comfortable to your skin) to head, neck, chest and groin. Use hot water bottles and warm moist towels.

  • Cover the victim with blankets or sleeping bag - including head and neck - to insulate them from the cold.

  • Report situation by radio to emergency services. 

Sun Burn

Direct, indirect, reflective light can all cause sunburn. Even on a cloudy day, you can be burned badly. Ensure children are adequately protected. Reapply sunscreen often. Keep spare sunscreen onboard. Wear wide brim hats or with neck and side protection. Keep spare hats on your boat. Use sunglasses. Protect feet. Usually 11am until 3pm is the worst time for sunburn.

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