Know the warning signs of hypothermia
LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — The bitter cold is dangerous and could cause a concerning drop in body temperatures.
Hypothermia is more often seen with extended time in cold water, but it doesn’t take long for the same result when air temperatures get this low.
The condition starts when your temperature falls faster than your body can produce heat. And when it falls below 95-degrees your heart, nervous system and other organs may not work normally.
“Your neurological functioning will decrease, your cardiac function will decrease… // …and then frostbite and other bad things will set in. When that starts to occur and eventually if you become more and more cold you’ll have cardiac arrest and brain death,” said Mayo Clinic Health System Emergency Room Physician Eric Grube.
So make sure you watch for the signs and symptoms of hypothermia including slurred speech, a weak pulse, clumsiness and confusion… and eventually loss of consciousness.
If you think someone is suffering from the condition call 911. Before responder arrive, you can help by:
Move the person to a warm, dry location if possible. If you’re unable to move the person out of the cold, shield him or her from the cold and wind as much as possible. Keep him or her in a horizontal position if possible.
If the person is wearing wet clothing, remove it. Cut away clothing if necessary to avoid excessive movement.
Use layers of dry blankets or coats to warm the person. Cover the person’s head, leaving only the face exposed.
If you’re outside, lay the person on his or her back on a blanket or other warm surface.
A person with severe hypothermia may appear unconscious, with no apparent signs of a pulse or breathing. If the person’s breathing has stopped or appears dangerously low or shallow, begin CPR immediately if you’re trained.
If the affected person is alert and able to swallow, provide a warm, sweet, nonalcoholic, noncaffeinated beverage to help warm the body.
Use a first-aid warm compress (a plastic fluid-filled bag that warms up when squeezed) or a makeshift compress of warm water in a plastic bottle or a dryer-warmed towel. Apply a compress only to the neck, chest wall or groin. Don’t apply a warm compress to the arms or legs. Heat applied to the arms and legs forces cold blood back toward the heart, lungs and brain, causing the core body temperature to drop. This can be fatal.
Don’t use hot water, a heating pad or a heating lamp to warm the person. The extreme heat can damage the skin or, even worse, cause irregular heartbeats so severe that they can cause the heart to stop.
Don’t give the person alcohol or cigarettes.
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