Author Topic: Cotton Clothing Can Kill  (Read 444 times)

alan de enfield

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Cotton Clothing Can Kill
« on: 08:52:50, 20/11/19 »
Attention grabbing headline, but, refers to an old article that I have recently been referred to.
I thought I'd put it up here for discussion :

https://www.theguardian.com/science/the-h-word/2016/jun/30/brecon-beacons-survival-science-dead-mans-clothes?utm_content=buffer2cad5&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer


"Also important is a sense of respect for wild spaces, even if they seem picturesque and unthreatening. As an editorial in the British Medical Journal put it: “British mountains can be dangerous. Their low altitude and often innocuous shape may lull the unwary visitor into taking them too lightly, but their wetness and windiness can make them just as hazardous as more imposing hills elsewhere.”

BuzyG

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Re: Cotton Clothing Can Kill
« Reply #1 on: 09:14:49, 20/11/19 »
All I can see on the link are adverts.

What does the article say?

alan de enfield

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Re: Cotton Clothing Can Kill
« Reply #2 on: 09:25:38, 20/11/19 »
All I can see on the link are adverts.

What does the article say?


Hiking safety: how a dead man’s clothes changed survival advice
The children ‘lost’ in the Brecon Beacons this week are safe, and UK hiking fatalities are rare, partly thanks to groundbreaking experiments in the 1960s

When two participants in a Duke of Edinburgh expedition felt ill this week, they did what they had been told to do, and contacted help. Despite some early dramatic stories hinting at a disaster, and some appalling weather conditions locally, all 26 were found safe and well after a retrieval mission mounted by emergency services, including mountain rescue and the coastguard.

Why do hikers and climbers die?
Although hiking and climbing in the UK are a relatively safe sports, there are fatalities: Mountain Rescue England & Wales report over a thousand incidents most years, with annual injuries at about 650 people, and deaths averaging about 34 per year (using 2009-2013 figures). Scottish Mountain Rescue attend slightly fewer incidents per year, but assist about the same number of people and record similar numbers of deaths (see their reports here). While the majority of these injuries are caused by accidents or existing health conditions, exhaustion and exposure are still a significant reported minority of incidents in the UK countryside.
Deaths are more poignant when young people are involved. Schemes like Outward Bound and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award began to encourage the under-18s into hill walking and hiking in the middle of the twentieth century; at the same time stories of teenagers dying on hills and mountains made headlines. In January 1960 an 18 year old died on an Outward Bound hike near Eskdale, and in February 1961 a 16 year old boy died on a Duke of Edinburgh hike in Wales (nearly 50 years later Prince Edward was criticised for claiming this death made the scheme ‘more popular’). In October 1962 yet another 18 year old died on an Outward Bound-led ascent of Cairngorm.

Walking in dead men’s shoes
The Royal College of Surgeons set up a Working Party on Accident Prevention and Life Saving in 1961, which considered accidents everywhere – in the home and on the roads as well as in the countryside. One key member was Dr Lewis Griffith Cresswell Evans Pugh – the physiologist who had been crucial to the successful summit of Everest in 1953, and who had also researched “thermal stress” in the Antarctic in the late 1950s. In 1964 the surprising, and apparently inexplicable, death of three young men on the Rover Scout-organised Four Inns Walk in the Peak District led Pugh into an important semi-forensic investigation into weather, clothes, and risk.

Pugh went to the Derbyshire Dales, attended the inquest, and contacted the family; securing the outfits worn by the three dead men – G Withers, J Butterfield and M Welby – to use in his experiments. All three were young and fit, had successfully completed the Four Inns Walk at least once before, and were wearing very similar outfits; the one Pugh studied consisted of a hooded anorak, a wool jersey, a cotton/wool blend shirt, string vest, cotton underwear, jeans, socks, sturdy walking shoes, and gloves. This outfit was actually worn by a young man who worked on an exercise bicycle in a climate chamber in Hampstead, while Pugh simulated the high winds and variable temperatures of the Four Inns Walk in 1964 – and, crucially, soaked the volunteer under a shower to mimic the heavy rain.
Pugh’s big finding – significant enough to be published in Nature – was that a combination of wet and windy conditions could reduce the thermal properties of clothing to nearly nothing. In particular, jeans proved to be very poor choices for bad weather; when worn wet during exercise in 9mph winds the “thermal value” of the walkers’ outfit fell by an astonishing 85%. Worse, our bodies respond to cold by shivering, which requires energy, making tired hikers become more and more exhausted as they become colder, leading to a deadly circle of fatigue and hypothermia.

Be prepared!
The scouting motto is the perfect one for preventing deaths in the UK countryside: one key way to prevent deaths from exposure was to wear the right clothing. Although studies had been done on the effects of rain and wind separately on the thermal properties of sports clothing, Pugh was the first to show that these weather conditions had a much greater effect when combined than had been assumed. He also emphasised the importance of a pragmatic, energy-preserving attitude – in many cases it is better to seek shelter and wait for help, than to attempt to walk out of a difficult situation. This is particularly important as fatigue and hypothermia can make it hard for people to ‘think straight’ and make good decisions about risk and safety – the best advice today is still to stop, rest, take on food, and put on dry clothing.
Also important is a sense of respect for wild spaces, even if they seem picturesque and unthreatening. As an editorial in the British Medical Journal put it: “British mountains can be dangerous. Their low altitude and often innocuous shape may lull the unwary visitor into taking them too lightly, but their wetness and windiness can make them just as hazardous as more imposing hills elsewhere.”

And links to various medical tests, reviews etc

Example :

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673664912279

pleb

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Re: Cotton Clothing Can Kill
« Reply #3 on: 12:11:24, 20/11/19 »
Even I dont wear jeans for a walk, unless a local hot dry weather stroll. In fact dont think I have any now.
We're all doomed! DOOOMED I SAY!

Patrick1

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Re: Cotton Clothing Can Kill
« Reply #4 on: 12:58:31, 20/11/19 »
That's a very interesting article - I was certainly unaware of this background. I think the message "Don't walk in jeans" is now quite widely known, even among occasional walkers. I'm not sure there's as much awareness that this is an issue with cotton clothing generally, particularly base layers. I would have counted myself as a moderately keen walker, but until recently I would routinely walk in a cotton tee shirt as baselayer. Its only in the last couple of years, when doing more walking and reading more widely, that I've switched to synthetic baselayers and been pleasantly surprised at no longer having that cold clammy feeling when I stop at the summit.

forgotmyoldpassword

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Re: Cotton Clothing Can Kill
« Reply #5 on: 13:49:17, 20/11/19 »
Unfortunately I recently led a group with a whole host of 'youth' wearing inappropriate clothing.  At a certain point .. despite sending out kit lists, trying to educate people... people still turn up in jeans, cotton tops and seem oblivious when you point out that yes it is a clear day now, but the forecast is changeable.  The mere idea of changeable weather seems a miraculous surprise to many people.


As for this comment from the article:


"[size=0px]Pugh’s big finding – significant enough to be published in Nature – was that a combination of wet and windy conditions could reduce the thermal properties of clothing to nearly nothing. In particular, jeans proved to be very poor choices for bad weather; when worn wet during exercise in 9mph winds the “thermal value” of the walkers’ outfit fell by an astonishing 85%. Worse, our bodies respond to cold by shivering, which requires energy, making tired hikers become more and more exhausted as they become colder, leading to a deadly circle of fatigue and hypothermia."[/size]



9mph winds an wet aren't unusual conditions for British mountains at all - and it doesn't take 5000m+ peaks to cause this rapid cooling effect.  As was said in other threads, that is why having proper waterproof clothing for winter is so valuable - and why actually waterproof whilst active materials are so much more expensive for winter sports where you're exerting yourself.  In the summer you can wear a bin bag with arm and head holes cut out and it'll be functionally dry on the outside, but in winter that'd be a very bad idea.


Pitboot

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Re: Cotton Clothing Can Kill
« Reply #6 on: 15:19:56, 20/11/19 »
"Unfortunately I recently led a group with a whole host of 'youth' wearing inappropriate clothing.  At a certain point .. despite sending out kit lists, trying to educate people... people still turn up in jeans, cotton tops and seem oblivious when you point out that yes it is a clear day now, but the forecast is changeable.  The mere idea of changeable weather seems a miraculous surprise to many people."

I feel your pain on this, I was a cadet officer and trying to hammer the message home was a nightmare, even when dealing with adults. >:(