Last Tuesday, January 13th, my local crunchy mom group lost an amazing mother, Lindsay Gardner and her 13-month-old daughter, Hailey. It is suspected that she crashed her car and eventually succumbed to hypothermia. It’s something that none of us could ever imagine in our wildest dreams, especially since we live in Texas where it doesn’t seem like it would get THAT cold. Actually, hypothermia can set in rather quickly and at a higher outside temperature than one might think.
Hypothermia occurs when the core body temperature reaches 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Your body temperature can drop when the outside air is 50 degrees Fahrenheit or even higher if it is raining, snowing or windy. You don’t need freezing temperatures for your core body temperature to start to decrease, so this means you should take extra precautions during freezing weather. When you are experiencing hypothermia, you can have a lot of strange side effects such as poor judgement, unsteadiness and slurred speech. Another bizarre symptom of hypothermia is paradoxical undressing. This occurs when a person gets such extreme hypothermia that they feel as if they are burning up, so they remove their clothing. This is likely the reason that Lindsay and Hailey were found unclothed.
While we are all extremely sad and distraught to have lost two amazing people that made an impact on so many lives, I want to make sure everyone knows the dangers of hypothermia and how to prevent it. Being aware just might save a life and prevent another senseless death from happening.
- Wear mittens, hats, scarves and layers of wind-proof clothing. Keep extras in your car in case you forget them.
- Always carry your cell phone and identification on you. If you happen to crash your vehicle, you can call for help. If you are unconscious and someone finds you, you can be identified easily.
- Keep a phone charger in your car and USE it! Anytime you are in your car, charge your phone. You never know when you might need it. You never know how long you could be stranded and the more battery your phone has, the better chance you have of being rescued! If you have a cell phone that works, even if it is not connected to service, it will still call 911!!
- Store some thick, warm blankets in your trunk. If you ever wreck your car in cold weather, the best idea is to wait for help. Pull out the blankets to stay warm. They can be used as a makeshift jacket if you forget yours and need to go look for help, but tie a rope to the car in case you need to go back. The foil emergency blankets take up very little room!
- Make sure you have an emergency kit in your vehicle. Some good items to keep in a car emergency kit are a first aid kit, bottles of water, some food (granola bars, beef jerky, etc), a rope, kitty litter or sand (for traction), a compass, a flashlight and batteries, glow sticks, matches, a lighter and a flare. There are plenty more things you could have that would be helpful in an emergency. Tailor it to your needs! This could also double as a bug out bag.
- If you live or drive near bodies of water, make sure you (and your children!) know how to swim. Have a seat belt cutting/window breaking tool on your key ring or in a very easily accessible location.
- Always let someone know where you are going and when you will be there. Make sure they know to try contacting or searching for you if you don’t show up.
- Take car of your car! Make sure your precious cargo is in a safe vessel by checking the brakes, tires, fluids and lights. Keep your vehicle regular maintained for your safety.
- Never drink and drive. Alcohol can actually speed up the onset of hypothermia.
Cold weather is nothing to take lightly. No matter how well you think that you can handle the cold, the fact is, if you are stranded with or without injuries, you can easily succumb to hypothermia. Take all of the necessary precautions to reduce your risk. Stay safe, my friends!
If you would like to donate money to the family of Lindsay and Hailey Gardner, you can send PayPal funds in the form of a GIFT to email@example.com. My local crunchy mom group uses this fund for our members who are in need of assistance. Please put Lindsay and Hailey’s name in a note to make sure it goes to pay for their funerals or any other expenses the family might have. Lindsay and Hailey left behind husband and father, Anthony, as well as countless family members and friends.
Photo Credit: Donna McCullough & Jenny Spencer