KALISPELL — Extreme cold temperatures have hit Northwest Montana this week, leading to dangerous conditions for those venturing outside for an extended period of time.
“Hypothermia is basically your body is not producing heat as fast as you’re losing it,” Logan Health Alert Flight Nurse Travis Willcut tells MTN News.
Confusion, slurred speech, and muscle cramps are all signs of hypothermia due to prolonged exposure to extreme cold weather.
Add in windy conditions and you have a real problem.
“A couple knots of wind can really drastically make the wind chill factor that much worse, make sure you wear the layers, hats covering exposed skin, stay warm and you know warm up frequently,” added Willcut.
Willcut said checking in on those most vulnerable during extreme cold is a good idea.
“Check up on your family members, especially if they’re part of that older or younger population, just kind of have people keep in contact, make sure their stoves and furnaces and all that is working appropriately,” said Willcut.
Willcut said having an extra pair of dry clothes in your vehicle can be lifesaver if you get in an accident or become stranded.
“Just put them in a little backpack and keep them for whenever, especially if you got children or you know you’re elderly, get put in the ditch it’s harder to get out, you know just be prepared,” added Willcut.
Willcut’s been a part of a number of hypothermia and frostbite rescues over his career as a flight nurse.
He’s said thrill seekers venturing into the backcountry this week need to be prepared for the worst as disaster could strike at any minute.
“Our flight crew, we’re always prepared, we always take the gear with the idea that we will be spending 24 hours out in this weather and I encourage all backcountry people to take that mentality that they’re going to spend a day or two back there because we can’t always get to you and the weather becomes a factor so, you have to be prepared for at least 24 hours out in the cold,” said Willcut.