Weather can be predicted but is often unpredictable. When unusual arctic weather hits, hypothermia and frostbite are serious medical emergencies that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

What is hypothermia?

Hypothermia is a condition that is often caused by lengthy periods of exposure to cold temperatures but can also be a result of drugs or underlying pathologic conditions. It is defined as a core body temperature of less than 35 degrees Fahrenheit according to this source HERE. Hypothermia can also occur in temperatures above 40 degrees if a person becomes chilled from cold water, rain, or sweat.

Older adults, babies, homeless people, hunters, hikers, and those who consume drugs and alcohol are most at risk of hypothermia.

Signs of Hypothermia

Adults:

  • Shivering
  • Exhaustion or feeling very tired
  • Confusion
  • Fumbling hands
  • Memory loss
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness

Babies:

  • Bright red or pale, cold skin
  • Unusually quiet and sleepy and may refuse to feed
  • Weak cry
  • Trouble breathing

How To Treat Hypothermia

If you suspect you or someone else has hypothermia, seek immediate medical attention. Hypothermia can result in major organ failure and death. If medical attention is not readily available, there are some ways you can help:

  • Get someplace warm, out of the elements.
  • Remove any wet clothing
  • Warm the body, focusing on core areas such as the neck, chest, groin, and head.
  • Warm drinks can help bring up internal body temperature, but do not give an alcoholic drink, and do not give any beverages to an unconscious person
  • Keep the person dry and wrapped in a dry covering, or blanket is possible.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible

If you discover someone who appears to be unconscious or dead, perform CPR and continue to perform CPR until medical attention arrives.

How You Can Prevent Hypothermia

The best course of action to avoid hypothermia is to prevent it. Stay bundled up and keep your extremities covered, limit your exposure to the cold, stay dry, and avoid activities that may cause you to sweat a lot. Protect children from hypothermia by dressing them in warm layers, keeping them indoors, and bring them indoors if they start shivering (shivering is a sign of hypothermia in children). Do not let babies sleep in cold rooms.

For more on hypothermia, you can check out the information posted on the CDC and the Mayo Clinic’s website.