Remember: Live to fish another day
This past week it has been extremely cold, and venturing outdoors to fish was a challenge that reminded me of the precautions necessary to prevent one from becoming hypothermic. The cold can be life threatening.While hypothermia, a rapid cooling of the bodys core temperature, can occur even in weather above 50 degrees, we think of it more during the cold-weather months. The condition if untreated can cause death.Anglers who fish during the fall, winter and early spring should be very much aware of this potential life-threatening hazard. Basically, the body tends to lose heat through several different sources.Conduction is the loss of heat due to a warmer body coming in contact with a cooler one. This occurs to anglers who are standing in cold water in a pair of waders. The body can only produce a certain amount of heat, and the colder water will have a tendency to lower the body temperature over time.Convection is the chilling effect that wind has on the body. Anglers fishing outdoors are often exposed to cold, windy days. The wind can rapidly lower the body temperature as well.Radiation heat loss is a little more difficult to spot, but can account for a huge amount of heat loss in an individual. For most anglers, it occurs when they do not cover their heads. Heat is lost from the body rapidly from the exposed top.In addition to these three sources of heat loss, an individual may also aggravate things through his or her own respiration. Breathing cool air can have the same adverse impact on the bodys core temperature.Perspiration can also cause an additional chilling effect. Loss of heat through dehydration is another issue during cold weather.To try and minimize the impact of hypothermia, one should try and remain dry. So clothing that wicks moisture is extremely important. If you can wear everything that is moisture wicking and layer appropriately you can slow the heat loss caused by conduction. To protect you from the effects of the wind (convection), the last layer or two should provide some sort of wind barrier to be the most effective to protect against. The last layer as a garment that protects against foul weather is also important. Keeping dry will help slow the heat loss.A good warm hat will help a lot from radiation heat loss. We often hear that 90 percent of the body heat can be lost through our exposed head. Therefore, wearing a warm hat is crucial to keeping warm and minimizing the heat loss.A face mask will help keep you from breathing in cold air that could be harmful. I have found that this really helps. Covering any exposed areas will protect you from heat loss as well. Some anglers wear hoods that cover their neck and head as well.Finally, do not fail to keep yourself hydrated during cold weather. Drinking water is extremely important. You must replace the moisture that you lose to help maintain you body core temperature. If you follow these precautions you can remain relatively comfortable in the outdoors under some pretty adverse conditions.Remember, if the weather gets too bad, there is nothing that beats sitting inside in a warm environment. Enjoy the outdoors, but do not be overcome by it. Use your basic instincts and live to fish another day!Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.
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