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Cotton in the outdoors can kill you.

June 9, 2012

My wife and I were just up at the hardware store buying some chicken wire and fence posts and other items. When we finished in the store and were leaving the checkout counter, it started to rain (not our typical drizzling rain). So I picked up my pace to get to the truck and so did the rain. As we were throwing our supplies into the back I said to my wife all we need now is some hail. Guess what, it started to hail and rain harder. Ever had hail hit you directly in the ear hole. It only took us 5 minutes to load the truck and get inside but we were soaked. I was wearing jeans (cotton), t-shirt (cotton) and a flannel shirt (again, cotton). I wasn’t cold at first but as we drove home the chill started to set in. If this would have been the outdoors without shelter and a source of heat, I would be in trouble.

The Mazama’s Mountaineering Club has been sending newbies home if they showed up in cotton pants and shirt for a hike or climb. The weather in the Northwest can change in minutes during the spring and fall. Once you get wet in cotton you stay wet for a long time. Cotton will help keep you cool in the summer sun, when it comes out on a Thursday in July or August on the western side of the Cascade Range but any time other than that one day, you want to change as soon as possible.

Cotton is great at absorbing and holding water. Water decreases body temperature 5 times faster than air. When your core body temperature drops, hypothermia starts from mild to worst.
Core Temp – Symptom
98.6 – Degrees normal oral temperature.
97 – Shivering starts.
95 – Heat production 6 X basil (this means your body is generating 6 times the body heat it usually needs to in order to keep up).
93 – Weakness starts, poor coordination.
91 – Shivering decreases, altered mental status sets in.
90 – Metabolism declines-body systems slow down.
86 – Heat control lost, shivering stops and death is quickly approaching.
84 – Atrial Fibrillation.

I could go on and on but if you live in the Northwest you should already know this.


From → Equipment, Survival

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