Hypothermia is an abrupt drop in the body temperature beneath 35 degrees C. The condition can be serious if not promptly treated. It is best to call for emergency assistance and provide appropriate first aid care if there are signs present.
What are the causes?
Hypothermia develops if the body becomes too cold and the temperature drops below 35 degrees C.
The usual causes of hypothermia include the following:
- Poor clothing during cold weather
- Being tired and cold
- Falling into cold water
- Getting cold in damp clothes
What are the signs?
The initial indications of hypothermia include:
- Cold and pale skin
- Rapid breathing
- Slurred speech
These are the signs of mild hypothermia in which the body temperature is between 32-35 degrees C.
In case the temperature drops to 32 degrees C or lower, shivering stops entirely, and the individual might pass out. This is an indication that the condition is worsening, and medical attention is necessary.
Management of hypothermia
It is vital to call for emergency assistance and provide first aid care if an individual is suspected with hypothermia.
- Transfer the individual indoors
- Get rid of any damp clothing
- Cover the individual with a blanket
- Provide the individual with a warm, non-alcoholic beverage if he/she can swallow normally
- Provide an energy food that includes sugar such as a chocolate bar if he/she does not have swallowing issues
In case there is no shelter available, look for an area he/she can rest to be protected from the cold ground such as a towel or blanket.
If the individual is not breathing, perform CPR until the emergency team arrives.
Disclaimer / More Information
The information posted on this page on hypothermia is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize the signs, register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Kelowna, Saskatoon, Victoria, Surrey, Mississauga, Winnipeg, Red Deer, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.