- When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced.
- Low body temperature may make you unable to think clearly or move well.
- You may not know you have hypothermia.
- If your temperature is below 95°, the situation is an emergency—get medical attention immediately.
· When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced.
· Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up your body’s stored energy. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature.
· Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know it is happening and won’t be able to do anything about it.
· Hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, but it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water.
· Victims of hypothermia are often (1) elderly people with inadequate food, clothing, or heating; (2) babies sleeping in cold bedrooms; (3) people who remain outdoors for long periods—the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc.; and (4) people who drink alcohol or use illicit drugs.
· Shivering, exhaustion
· Confusion, fumbling hands
· Memory loss, slurred speech
· Bright red, cold skin
· Very low energy
WHAT TO DO
If you notice any of these signs, take the person’s temperature. If it is below 95°, the situation is an emergency—get medical attention immediately.
If medical care is not available, begin warming the person as follows:
· Get the victim into a warm room or shelter.
· If the victim has on any wet clothing, remove it.
· Warm the center of the body first – chest, neck, head, and groin – using an electric blanket, if available. Or, use skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels, or sheets.
· Warm beverages can help increase the body temperature, but do not five alcoholic beverages. Do not try to give beverages to an unconscious person.
· After body temperature has increased, keep the person dry and wrapped in a warm blanket, including the head and neck.
· Get medical attention as soon as possible.
· A person with severe hypothermia may be unconscious and may not seem to have a pulse or to be breathing. In this case, handle the victim gently, and get emergency assistance immediately.
· Even if the victim appears dead, CPR should be provided.
· CPR should continue while the victim is being warmed, until the victim responds or medical aid becomes available.
· In some cases, hypothermia victims who appear to be dead can be successfully resuscitated.
Additional information related to winter weather health and safety can be found at: