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First Aid 

Hypothermia

Hypothermia is a condition that occurs when body temperature drops below 95F (35C) and is characterized by reduced systemic circulation. Hypothermia is associated with sustained exposure to cold. High wind chill or immersion in cold water significantly increases the risk of hypothermia. Hypothermia can also occur in poorly heated households, and infants, elderly individuals, the homeless, and thin and frail individuals are especially susceptible to hypothermia. Lack of activity, fatigue, dehydration, chronic illness, and alcohol and drug use may also increase the risk of developing hypothermia.

Symptoms of hypothermia include:

  • Shivering

  • Weak pulse

  • Slurred speech/mumbling

  • Slow and shallow breathing

  • Clumsiness

  • Confusion/memory loss

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Cold and bright red skin

To treat hypothermia, take the following steps:

  1. Remove the affected individual from the cold and into a warm place if possible. If not, be sure to shield the person from the wind. 

  2. Remove wet clothing and cover the individual’s head.

  3. Cover the affected individual with blankets (preferably an  electric blanket) and give them warm drinks, warm soup, and high energy foods such as chocolate.

  4. Monitor vital signs.

  5. Seek emergency medical assistance.

Resources

Austin, M., Crawford, R., & Armstrong, V. J. (2014). First aid manual. (G. M. Piazza, Ed.) (5th ed.). DK Publishing. https://kuiyem.ku.edu.tr/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/American-College-of-Emergency-Physicians-ACEP-First-Aid-Manual.pdf.

British Red Cross. (n.d.). Learn first aid for someone who has hypothermia. https://www.redcross.org.uk/first-aid/learn-first-aid/hypothermia

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2020, April 15). Hypothermia: First aid. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-hypothermia/basics/art-20056624.