How to Help With Hypothermia

Hypothermia is a life-threatening condition that can occur if a person gets too cold. (The word literally means “low [body] temperature.”) Here’s how to recognize it and what to do if you are with someone who is showing symptoms.

Know who is at risk

Although hypothermia can happen to anyone, the CDC says the most at risk are older people with inappropriate clothing or heating, babies who sleep in cold rooms, people who spend a lot of time outdoors in cold conditions, and people who use alcohol or drugs. which can affect the regulation of body temperature.

Recognize the symptoms

Symptoms of hypothermia include shaking, exhaustion, and clumsy hands, which at first may seem unusual to someone in freezing temperatures. But they can be signs of hypothermia, as well as confusion, memory loss, slurred speech, and drowsiness. If someone has drunk alcohol, do not think they are drunk; consider that they could have hypothermia. Infants experiencing hypothermia may be lethargic and have cold, bright red skin.

Seek medical attention

Hypothermia is a medical emergency, so call 911 if possible. If you have a thermometer, note that the person with hypothermia has a temperature below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the person loses consciousness or seems to have no pulse, start CPR immediately. (This is an emergency and you should also ask someone to call 911, and you should also try to warm him up as described below.) Continue CPR until help arrives or until the person answers.

Warm the person thoroughly

If you are unable to seek medical attention right away, or if you need to wait a bit, the CDC suggests doing the following:

If possible, take the person to a warm place (indoors or in a place most protected from light) and remove all wet clothing. (People can have hypothermia in cold, wet clothes, even if the weather is a little chilly.)

Gently warm up the main body of the person, including their head and torso. Electric blankets or skin-to-skin contact under dry blankets may help. Warm drinks like tea can help warm a person from the inside, but never try to water an unconscious person.

Once the person’s body temperature returns to normal, wear dry clothing or blankets and seek medical attention as soon as possible.

A person with hypothermia may also have frostbite , which usually affects the limbs. Of the two, hypothermia is the more important medical problem, so take care of this before worrying about your fingers and toes.

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