HELENA – Passion Plungers that jumped into icy Spring Meadow Lake on Saturday had hot tubs and warm cars with heat to jump into right after.

This is certainly not always going to be the case when outside across Big Sky country. Hypothermia is a dangerous lowering of the body temperature. When your core temperature drops, your heart, nervous system, and other organs don’t work normally.

Left untreated, hypothermia can eventually lead to complete failure of your heart and respiratory system.

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The most obvious initial symptom is shivering, that’s the body’s automatic defense against cold temperatures as the shivering and shaking is a natural attempt for the body to warm itself.

Other symptoms to look for are slurred speech, slow shallow breathing, lack of coordination, drowsiness, confusion, and at a more advanced stage a loss of consciousness.

If you suspect someone has hypothermia, call 911. While you wait for emergency help to arrive, gently move the person inside if possible.

Jarring movements can trigger dangerous irregular heartbeats. Carefully remove any wet clothing, replacing it with warm dry coats or blankets.

Montana is mired in an extremely cold and snowy winter, and hypothermia is a real threat to anyone that spends extended time outdoors.