Yikes, talk about timely! I’m reading a collection of essays by David Quammen, Natural Acts; A Sidelong View of Science and Nature. This afternoon, read the essay “A Deathly Chill”, about hypothermia, especially in cases of being immersed in water. There, he states that many cases of drowning are, rather, hypothermia, as the body’s core temperature cools down when immersed in water much faster than at air temps. Drowning can be a result of the confused mental state of hypothermia, as well.
This is an older,1985, book, so I’ll type the quote:
“Because full immersion in water,…is more deadly still-because the thermal conductivity of water is 240 times that of still air. While a man overboard sculls gently to keep his face out of the waves, rides in his life jacket, hopefully for speedy rescue,the water sucks heat—and therefore life---- out of the core of his body at an unbelievable rate. Immersed in 32 degreeF, like the Titanic passengers,the average human will die within an hour. Immersed at 59 degrees F, he will die after 6 hours. And 59 degrees happens to be warmer than practically all of the coastal and inland waters of North America.”
In the essay, he details the processes of body core cooling by small increments, and, 78 degrees is when the body goes haywire, and ceases to function, as described by a physician and mountaineer.
It was interesting to me, that the body core temp seems so high, 78, that seems warm, but that’s when processes shut down. In reading it this afternoon, I wanted to know more, and the water temps here in NC are warmer than 59 degrees, as said in the essay. So, to piggyback on this thread, is hypothermia in water as dire an issue as the essayist paints it?