Hypothermia Maritime Injuries

Maritime workers must frequently labor in cold weather, and they constantly face the risk of falling overboard into frigid waters.

When this happens, they’re at risk of developing hypothermia, a life-threatening condition that occurs when body temperature drops below 95 degrees.

Hypothermia Basics

Hypothermia is primarily caused by cold weather, when maritime workers are exposed to chilled air and frigid waters. While it’s true that these weather conditions create the greatest hypothermia risks, temperatures don’t have to be below freezing for hypothermia to occur.

Maritime workers can experience hypothermia when their body temperatures drop below 95 degrees, and this risk may increase due to pre-existing health conditions. Diabetes and hypertension sufferers are particularly vulnerable to hypothermia.

There are three stages:

  • Mild. Mild hypothermia occurs at temperatures between 95 and 96.6 degrees. Symptoms may include shivering, shallow breathing, dizziness, lack of coordination, and goosebumps.
  • Moderate. Moderate hypothermia occurs at temperatures between 91 and 94.8 degrees. Symptoms may include involuntary muscular convulsions, confusion, loss of coordination, and blue or pale skin.
  • Profound. Profound hypothermia occurs at temperatures below 89.6 degrees. Symptoms may include irregular heartbeat, slurred speech, amnesia, dilated pupils, and loss of consciousness.

Hypothermia Risks

When hypothermia isn’t treated promptly, a maritime worker may develop frostbite. Frostbite is the freezing of tissues, which can result in the death and decay of these tissues. This condition is known as gangrene, and gangrenous tissues typically must be amputated.

In the most severe cases, hypothermia may result in a maritime worker’s death. These injuries and deaths can be prevented when employers ensure that their vessels are seaworthy, and when their workers are properly trained.

If you’ve experienced hypothermia while performing maritime work, you may qualify for Jones Act benefits, including compensation for your medical expenses and lost wages. To learn more about what the law offices of Steve M. Lee, P.C., can do for you, visit us on Facebook.

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