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Texas Coastal Water Temperature in Real Time




NOAA Wind Chill Chart


How can one tell if somebody is hypothermic?

It can be difficult to tell if someone is hypothermic without actually measuring their core temperature.  Measuring a persons core temperature in the field requires a rectal thermometer and is typically not practical.  Therefore symptoms must be relied on. Hypothermia affects people in different ways and no one symptom is reliable to indicate if a person is hypothermic.

The following lists the body core temperature and its typical signs and symptoms.  Not all hypothermia victims exhibit all of these symptoms, it varies from person to person.  Note symptoms will change as the person's core temperature changes.


Core Temp.


Signs & Syptoms

99 to 97F (37 to 36C)



Normal temperature range, Shivering may begin


97 to 95F (36 to 35C)


Cold sensation, goose bumps, unable to perform complex tasks with hands, shivering can be mild to severe, skin numb


95 to 93F (35 to 34C)

Shivering intense, muscle incoordination becomes apparent, movements slow and labored, stumbling pace, mild confusion, may appear alert, unable to walk 30 ft. line properly


93 to 90F (34 to 32C)  

Violent shivering persists, difficulty speaking, sluggish thinking, amnesia starts to appear and may be retrograde, gross muscle movements sluggish, unable to use hands, stumbles frequently, difficulty speaking, signs of depression


90 to 86F (32 to 30C)

Shivering stops in chronic hypothermia, exposed skin blue or puffy, muscle coordination very poor with inability to walk, confusion, incoherent, irrational behavior, BUT MAY BE ABLE TO MAINTAIN POSTURE AND THE APPEARANCE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL CONTACT.


86 to 82F (30 to 27.7C)  

Muscles severely rigid, semiconscious, stupor, loss of psychological contact, pulse and respiration slow, pupils can dilate


82 to 78F (27 to 25.5C)  

Unconsciousness, heart beat and respiration erratic, pulse and heart beat may be inapparent, muscle tendon reflexes cease


78 to 75F (25 to 24C)

Pulmonary edema, failure of cardiac and respiratory centers, probable death, DEATH MAY OCCUR BEFORE THIS LEVEL


64F (17.7C)


  Lowest recorded temperature of chronic hypothermia survivor
This table is from a book by Wm. Forgey called  Hypothermia - Death by Exposure


What is the best defense against hypothermia?

Hypothermia is the biggest killer of sea kayakers.  Many of its victims are unprepared for the cold water exposure that induces it.  **Water conducts heat away at 20-25 times the rate that air removes heat.**  This is one reason why an exposure to cold water at a certain temperature is more traumatic than exposure to air at the same temperature.

Be prepared.  Wear clothing that is appropriate for immersion in the water and not the air temperature.  Eat properly to keep your energy levels up, get enough rest and drink enough water to maintain proper hydration.  Fatigue and dehydration help to induce hypothermia when exposed to cold.  Most kayakers that get hypothermia did not expect to end up in the water.  Be prepared for cold water immersion when paddling on cold water.

Stay off the water if you are unsure the conditions may exceed your abilities.  This includes your ability to do a self rescue or assist in the rescue of another paddler.  Be aware of the weather forecast and what the weather is currently doing.  A weather forecast is not always 100% accurate.

Remember that extremely cold water can cause your hands to become useless in a relatively short time (less than 20 minutes) even while properly dressed.  This will complicate operating a pump, pulling on a spray skirt, firing off flares, radioing for help, etc.  This may result in your inability to signal for help, do a self rescue or assist in your rescue or the rescue of others.

Even though materials such as polypropylene, capilene, polyester fleece, etc. do insulate when wet, they are not as efficient when compared to dry clothing.  There is heat loss due to evaporation and conduction when these clothes are wet.  
Stay away from cotton clothing, cotton kills in cold environments because it does not insulate when wet.

The extremities(hands, feet, head) have to be kept warm because they radiate heat away from the body faster, thereby reducing overall body temperature. 4-5mm Neoprene for socks & gloves is the only material available for this purpose.

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