Hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature, occurs when your body is exposed to cold temperatures and begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up your body’s stored energy. 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.
Warnings signs of hypothermia includes shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness. Warning signs of hypothermia in infants includes bright-red, cold skin and very low energy. If you notice any of these signs, take the person’s temperature. If it is below 35 degrees Celsius or 95 degrees Fahrenheit, 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 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 give 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.