Freezing Hypothermia Facts & Safety


Hypothermia is the reduction in body temperature caused by too much exposure to cold conditions. Any drop in the body temperature below 95 degree Fahrenheit can be deemed hypothermia. Hypothermia can be caused by falling into cold water, exhaustion when the body is unable to generate heat or prolonged exposure to poor heating facilities. Let’s look at the causes, signs, treatment, and prevention of hypothermia in more detail.

Signs and Symptoms

The first noticeable sign of hypothermia is shivering. This is a defense mechanism adopted by the body to keep the body warm. The individual slowly starts turning blue and has difficulty moving. Weakness, difficulty co-coordinating, inability to think properly, drowsiness, reduced heartbeat and breathing rate are some of the other symptoms. Reduced breathing and heart rate are at a more advanced stage and it is essential that treatment be given to the individual before it reaches that stage. If you notice a person showing signs of amnesia, weakness, sudden loss of coordination, dilated pupils, hallucinations or blush skin conditions, ensure that prompt treatment is given.

Causes

Hypothermia is typically associated with extreme cold and damp conditions. Older people and babies are more prone to hypothermia. Alcohol consumption is a major factor in hypothermia, as it makes a person feel warm when the person is actually losing body heat. A number of factors can combine to cause hypothermia. Being in a cold environment, staying long in the cold or cold water, poor heating conditions, rain, wind or even inactivity are some of the factors.

  • Hypothermia: An overview of hypothermia with good section on the causes.
  • Causes: Offers a list of the common causes of hypothermia.
  • Overview: Touches on the different factors that may cause hypothermia.

Treatment/First Aid

As soon as you notice a person showing signs of hypothermia, get the person to a warm place away from the cold winds or rains. If the clothes are wet, change into dry clothes. Then, work to increase room temperature. Get the person to exercise and prepare hot drinks or high sugar food like candy for them. Hot water bottles can be placed on hands and legs. Alcohol should be avoided. Once the person is a little better, take him or her to a doctor for checkup and further treatment.

Prevention

Hypothermia can be avoided if you pay proper attention and care. Wear proper clothing when going out in the cold. It is better to be warm than be cold. Dress in layers so that you can remove some clothes if it gets too hot. Synthetic and woolen fabrics help retain body heat as compared to cotton. If your clothes are wet, change into dry clothes immediately. It is also important to stay active in cold weather; moving around helps to keep you warm by naturally generating body heat.

General Facts

When a person’s body temperature drops to 95 degree Fahrenheit or lower, he or she is suffering from hypothermia. Depending on the body temperature, hypothermia could be mild, moderate or severe. If it is between 90 to 95 degrees, it is mild and can be treated easily. A body temperature between 80 and 89 is more severe but can still be treated while temperature below 80 degrees is critical. If a person is in critical condition, call for immediate medical help. Take steps to keep them warm and it is important not move them around too much. CPR should not be given unless there is no heartbeat at all.




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