Hypothermia is caused by prolonged exposure to the cold (cold weather or cold water).
- Shivering and loss of coordination
- Slurred speech, apathy, confusion
- Extremely slow breathing
- Loss of consciousness (severe hypothermia)
If you suspect someone has hypothermia, there are several things you can do to help the victim:
- Call 9-1-1
- Move the person to a warmer environment.
- Remove any wet clothing and cover the victim with a dry blanket (or dress in dry clothing for mild cases).
- Begin to actively warm the victim by applying hot water bottles or chemical hot packs (wrapped in towels or blankets to prevent burns) to the chest and abdominal areas (core areas). Do not worry about warming the arms and legs; warm the blood at the center (core) of the body and allow that warm blood to warm the extremities.
- Do NOT immerse the victim in hot water- warming the victim too quickly may cause lethal heart rhythms
- Do NOT use a heating pad or heating lamp.
- If the victim is awake enough to drink and is not vomiting, try giving warm liquids to drink. Do NOT give the person alcohol or caffeinated beverages.
- If the victim is unconscious, monitor breathing and pulse and prepare to perform CPR if necessary.