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First aid: Dealing with Hypothermia

Hypothermia occurs when a person’s body temperature drops below 35C degrees. The most important thing to remember is to try to stop them from losing any further body heat.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Handle the person carefully and gently.
  • If possible, move them indoors or somewhere warm.
  • Remove wet clothing and dry the person’s body.
  • Starting with the head and torso, wrap them in blankets, towels, coats or whatever is available.
  • If appropriate, hug them to use your body heat to warm them up.
  • Give the person a warm drink or high-energy foods to warm them up. Make sure they are able to swallow.
  • Keep them warm and dry until their body temperature returns to normal.

Things you should NOT do:

  • Do not massage their limbs or body.
  • Do not put them into a hot bath.
  • Do not encourage them to drink alcohol.
  • Do not  try warming them with heat pads or lamps.

In cases of severe hypothermia you should call 999 immediately. Watch out for these signs:

  • They’re distressed or confused
  • Their breathing is slow and shallow
  • Their skin feels cold
  • They’re unconscious after having been exposed to the cold
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