BY JASMINE MATTSON-WOLFF
The Polar Plunge is probably one of the most well-known events that happens worldwide annually. Most of the time it is associated with beginning a new year or jumping for a charity fund-raising event. This event has been a tradition at UAS specifically since 1998. For this year’s Polar Plunge, the campus was raising funds and awareness for The Glory Hole. The Glory Hole is a homeless shelter and soup kitchen located here in downtown Juneau. Unfortunately, they just went through a detrimental event; about two months ago a broken pipe ended up flooding the facility. They were just able to reopen on Feb. 5. What’s really awesome though, is what came about after this terrible event.
Thanks to the university’s efforts, the grand total raised for The Glory Hole was $2,696.25! The donations to get those 50 brave souls jumping into the icy Auke Bay water were raised by 75 students, staff, faculty, and community members. The School of Management team (Barb Dagata & Charla Brown) raised the most out of any group with a total of $750! It sure is amazing to see how much we can do when we come together and work toward a good cause.
Everyone gathered at Auke Bay on Feb. 7 for the 17th Annual Polar Plunge. There ended up being 50 jumpers and 75 onlookers in attendance. The temperature was pretty chilly and there were windy conditions in Juneau that day. The high temperatures for the Plunge were in the teens, and with the wind chill people were reporting that it felt like it was below zero! I was in carving class that day and I have to say just walking from the Whitehead Building on campus to the cafeteria—it was cold as heck! I couldn’t imagine jumping into the water on such a cold day. It was kind of funny in a way though, in comparison to that weekend we’ve actually had a rather warm winter; the Polar Plunge took place during one of the rare spells where we actually had cold, winter weather conditions!
Due to the cold weather that we have been facing every now and then, and the conditions that the Polar Plunge participants jumped with, we figured we would throw in a few notes on winter weather safety, most notably regarding hypothermia. Hypothermia is a risk even when you’re not purposely jumping into cold water. It can also occur when you spend long periods of time in cold weather. Knowing what hypothermia looks like and how to address it can be life-saving info for Alaskans. Some of the signs of hypothermia include shivering, numbness, glassy stare, apathy, weakness, impaired judgment, incoherent speech, or loss of consciousness. If you think you or someone you know is suffering from hypothermia what should you do? Get the person to a warm place, seek medical help, remove wet clothing, and dry them off. Warm them slowly, focusing on the trunk/abdomen first. Monitor breathing and circulation, and administer CPR if necessary. Do not warm the person too quickly by exposing them to fire or immersing them in warm water, as this may result in heart arrhythmia. Do not warm the feet and hands before the person’s core, because this may result in shock.
With that I would like you to think about the fact that people often forget kindness is free. Also, meditate on the word compassion—one possible definition for that which I’ve found is as follows: a deep awareness of the suffering of another, coupled with the wish to relieve it.