CDC Offers Signs To Watch For When At Risk For Hypothermia

A woman walks through the snow on a cold winter day in Montreal, on January 29, 2019. - The frigid cold blanketing much of the US's northern neighbor, from Manitoba in the western Prairies region to Atlantic Canada, prompted a rare "hazardous" cold warning from Environment Canada. (Photo by MARTIN OUELLET-DIOTTE / AFP) (Photo credit should read MARTIN OUELLET-DIOTTE/AFP/Getty Images)

(KFSM) — Cold temperatures arrived Tuesday, and bitterly cold ones are expected on Wednesday, bringing concerns of hypothermia for those who venture outside.

Hypothermia is an abnormally low body temperature caused when a person is exposed to extremely cold temperatures. Hypothermia can affect the brain, making it difficult to think clearly or move well. By the time a person realizes they are hypothermic, they may not have the mental capacity to do anything about it. Though hypothermia typically occurs in extremely cold temperatures, it also can occur at or above 40 degrees if a person becomes chilled by water from rain, sweat or dousing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a few tips on symptoms of hypothermia and what people can do to avoid it.

In adults, warning signs include shivering and exhaustion, confusion and fumbling hands and memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness.

For infants, signs include bright red and cold skin and very low energy.

If any of these symptoms are present, it’s best to take the person’s temperature. Any temperature below 95 degrees is an emergency, and medical help should be sought immediately.

In the event a person becomes hypothermic, here are some steps to be taken right away:

  • Get the victim to a warm shelter
  • Remove any wet clothing
  • Warm the body’s center first, starting with the chest and head, as well as the neck and groin areas. An electric blanket is preferable, but skin-to-skin contact under dry, loose layers of blankets, clothing, etc. can also be used
  • Warm beverages can be used to help warm the person, but do not use alcohol or try to give beverages to an unconscious person
  • Keep the person wrapped in a dry, warm blanket even after the body temperature has increased
  • Get medical attention as soon as possible.

In cases of severe hypothermia, the person should be handled gently and emergency medical assistance sought immediately. CPR should be provided even if the person appears dead and should be continued as the person is being warmed, until the victim responds or medical aid becomes available. In some cases, a hypothermic person can be revived even if they appear to be dead.

More information on this is available on the CDC website.

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