HYPOTHERMIA Hypothermia is a medical condition that results from the body’s inability to adequately replace heat lost to the surrounding environment. Heat is lost at a faster rate then the body can generate heat that is lost. It is a progressive condition that can be reversed with appropriate care in the field.
HYPOTHERMIA YOU have had it before! Have you ever felt cold? Did you begin to shiver? Did you shiver so hard that you couldn’t stop shaking? YES? These were the early stages of hypothermia!
HYPOTHERMIA Normal Body Warming When the core temperature starts to drop, blood vessels in the extremities constrict and blood is returned to the core to maintain core temperature. The brain is very demanding and steals heat from the rest of the body. Every 20 minutes the blood vessels in the extremities will dilate for warm blood from the core to flow and warm the extremities. This brings cold blood back to the core to be warmed and lowers the core temperature even more.
HYPOTHERMIA In some respects hypothermia is similar to heat stress, but recovery and first aid are more complex. With heat stress, the body is trying to get rid of heat. With hypothermia, the body can’t generate heat fast enough, so it conserves heat as best it can. Prevention of hypothermia is 100% preventable, the same as heat stress. Hydration, diet and proper clothing are the key essentials to prevention and survival.
HYPOTHERMIA Primary Causes Failure to stay properly hydrated can accelerate the onset of hypothermia. Failure to eat enough calories. Failure to have proper clothing for conditions. Immobility. Medical conditions.
HYPOTHERMIA Medical Risk Factors Age – infants and people over 65 Alcohol use accelerates heat lose Illegal drugs Certain prescription drugs Diabetics People fighting infections Coronary problems
HYPOTHERMIA Environmental Risk Factors Temperatures below 50 degrees Wind from 4 to 30 mph Rain Wet clothing from sweat, rain, snow, etc.
HYPOTHERMIA Symptoms Core temperature (rectal) below 98.6 the onset of hypothermia begins. 98.6 – 95º Intense shivering, perform complex tasks impaired, fatigue, poor coordination, immobile and fumbling hands. Get medical attention ASAP.
HYPOTHERMIA Symptoms (cont) 95.0 – 91.4º Violent shivering, difficulty speaking, slow thinking, amnesia starts to appear, starts to loose contact with environment, stumbling gate, feeling of deep cold and numbness. Get medical attention ASAP. 91.4 – 87.8º Shivering decreases, muscle rigidity, erratic movement, thinking is not clear, trouble standing, hallucinations, loses contact with surroundings. CALL 911!!!
HYPOTHERMIA Symptoms (cont) 87.8 – 85.2º Shivering stops, rigid muscles, becomes irrational, starts into stupor, slow pulse and respiration, pupils started to dilate, skin starts to turn to blue, drowsiness. CALL 911!!!
HYPOTHERMIA Symptoms (cont) 85.2 – 78.8º Does not respond to spoken word, erratic pulse, reflexes do not function, person is only semi-conscious, heart starts atrial fibrillation. THIS IS A 911MEDICAL EMERGENCY!!!
HYPOTHERMIA Symptoms (cont) Below 78.8º Heart and respiratory failure, ventricular fibrillation, probable brain and lung hemorrhage. Even though the person may appear to be dead, they may still be able to be saved with immediate medical intervention. THIS IS A 911MEDICAL EMERGENCY!!!
HYPOTHERMIA First Aid If it’s cold enough for the victim to suffer hypothermia, it is cold enough for the rescuer to suffer also. STOP THE EXPOSURE move to warmer environment particularly out of the wind. Remove wet cloths and replace with warm dry cloths, blankets, etc.. Don’t forget to cover the head to retain heat. Apply warm compresses to groin, armpits and back of neck.
HYPOTHERMIA First Aid (cont) If the victim exhibits confusion, coma, fumbling hands and/or slurred speech call 911. If the victim can follow directions, sit up and is conscious, give warm non-alcoholic beverage. Do Not give liquids to unresponsive victim.
HYPOTHERMIA First Aid (cont) Do Not give victim any alcohol. Do Not warm arms, legs, hands or feet. Do Not rub or message arms, legs, etc. Victims of hypothermia have to be handled carefully. Failure to do so may result in cardiac failure. Proper warming and recovery of a hypothermia victim should be done by professional medical personnel.
HYPOTHERMIA PREVENTION Eat a healthy meal which will provide enough calories to generate heat in the environment. Eat snacks periodically to maintain calorie level. Have warm non-caffeinated beverages. Do not sit on cold items. Keep moving as much as possible. Wear appropriate clothing for insulation. Keep clothing dry.
HYPOTHERMIA PREVENTION (cont.) Dress to survive not for looks. What Not To Wear Don’t wear tennis shoes. Don’t wear cotton or nylon socks. Don’t wear blue jeans or denim jackets. Don’t wear cotton sweat shirts. Don’t wear short sleeve shirts or shorts.
HYPOTHERMIA PREVENTION (cont.) What To Wear Leather water repellent shoes or hiking shoes. Wool or wool blend hiking socks. Wool blend trousers. Long sleeve shirts. Wool or wool blend sweater. Coat or jacket that will insulate, repel water, wick away sweat. Neck scarf. Gloves or mittens. Head covering, preferably a wool blend watch cap.
HYPOTHERMIA Every year in the U.S. between 600 and 700 people die of hypothermia. Every year in Arizona an average of 23 people die of hypothermia.
HYPOTHERMIA Remember If left untreated, hypothermia can kill. Nobody ever froze to death — instead, they died of hypothermia. The freezing part came later... ...and only if the temperature of the surrounding environment was below freezing.