Friday, November 9, 2012

Hypothermia

Hypothermia occurs when the body loses enough heat to cause the core body temperature to drop. Things like anxiety, injury, drugs, poor nutrition  and alcohol consumption can all contribute to hypothermia.

Wet clothing and wind are a lethal combination that chill a person more rapidly. Changing into dry clothing can be the most important first step in the first aid of all cold victims.

Mild Hypothermia- the core temperature of the body will range from 95 to 91 degrees Fahrenheit. Signs of mild hypothermia include cold, pale and blue-gray skin, shivering, uncharacteristic behavior such as slurred speech, lethargy, poor judgement and confusion.

Severe Hypothermia- the core temperature of the body falls below 90 degrees Fahrenheit. To practical way to differentiate between mild and servere hypothermia is to classify victims as shivering and non-shivering. A victim who is responsive and shivering is mildly hypothermia while a barely conscious victim who is no longer shivering is severely hypothermia. Other symptoms include: stiff muscles and uncoordinated movement, weak, slow, irregular pulse, slow breathing and coma.

What to do:
  1. Reduce further heat loss. Remove wet or freezing clothing and dress the victim in dry clothing. Put the victim in a sleeping bag or wrap with blankets and insulate the person from the cold ground.
  2. Provide heat to the victim's trunk during the first hslf hour after rescue by whatever means are available" body-to-body contact, hot water bottles, chemical heating pads, etc. Place heat soources in the groin and armpits and alongside the neck.
  3. Cover the victim's head with a wool cap to reduce heat loss.
  4. Provide warm, sweet liquids when he or she is able to drink. Hypothermia victims are often dehydrated and their energy is depleted.
Warming the victim too rapidly may cause them to suffer from shock. Do not warm too rapidly. Don't place the victim in a hot bath or shower. Do not place the victim too close to a hot fire or other heat source. 

Call 9-1-1 whenever a person is determined to be unresponsive. Monitor breathing and be prepared to provide CPR.