With the heavy snow that has fallen over the past week in many parts of the UK, it seems appropriate to talk about Hypothermia; the signs & symptoms and what to do. Most of this is fairly obvious but, sometimes, stating the obvious is the best approach.
At its most basic, Hypothermia is caused by a drop in the body’s core temperature. Humans generally have a normal temperature of between 36 & 37 degrees Celsius and it doesn’t have to get much lower than 36C for someone to become hypothermic. Age, health and weight all play a factor in how quickly the casualty can become hypothermic; a small child’s temperature will, generally, drop a lot quicker than a healthy adult’s will.
Speed is of the essence when you suspect that someone is becoming hypothermic; look for the signs and symptoms and don’t hesitate to call 999 if you are in anyway concerned.
Does the person have any of these?
- Loss of colour (pale/grey/muddy completion)
- Bluing around the lips or nail beds
- Slurred speech
- Slow breathing
- Tiredness or confusion
In a baby you may also see:
- Cold to the touch and their skin may be red or darker than normal
- Unusually quiet and sleepy and may refuse to feed.
- Call the Emergency Services immediately
- Move them indoors or somewhere sheltered as quickly as possible
- Remove any wet clothing. To be direct, better naked in a blizzard than in wet clothing in a blizzard
- Warm them in a blanket, sleeping bag, dry towel and try to get dry, warm clothing on
- Keep the head covered
- Give them, a warm, non-alcoholic drink and something sugary to eat like chocolate
- Keep them talking until help arrives
- Make sure someone stays with them
- Give them a hot bath, hot shower, hot water bottle or but them in front of a heater
- Do not run their arms, legs, feet or hands
- Do not give them anything alcoholic to drink – it lowers the body temperature
For more information on Hypothermia then please go to the NHS website at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hypothermia/