Letting the body’s core temperature drop below the required for normal metabolism means the shutdown of many body functions eventually leading to death.
The most important thing to do in cases of Hypothermia is to raise the temperature up again, so shock does not occur (See Shock).
Signs of Hypothermia
- Feeling cold
- Uncontrolled shivering
- Slurred speech
- Clumsiness or dizziness
- Irritability or irrational behaviour
- Slow or weak pulse
First Aid for Hypothermia (see also Frostbite)
1. Monitor the patient’s lifeline – Follow DRABC.
2. Seek shelter from wet and cold
3. Protect the patient and yourself from rain, wind, snow, and wet ground
4. Ask patient to lie down and rest
5. Remove wet clothing
6. Provide warmth: place blankets around the patient or lie next to them to transfer body heat.
7. Cover the patient’s head to prevent further loss of body heat
8. Give the patient warm drinks, but do NOT give alcohol.
The proper temperature
Normal body temperature is around 37°C (98.6°F), so Hypothermia occurs when that temperature drops below 35°C (95°F). When your body becomes cold, it automatically generates heat by shivering — this keeps most major organs at normal temperature, restricting blood flow to skin and releasing hormones to generate that much needed warmth. These responses however use up energy and when the body runs out of it, it gradually begins to stop. The heartbeat slows and so does breathing until eventual death happens.
Simple measures can be made to ensure Hypothermia is prevented, such as wearing the appropriate clothing, keeping warm or refraining from getting wet in cold seasons. And whenever possible, ensure elders or the ill are also warm during cold weather especially since they are most vulnerable in harsh conditions.
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