Cold weather presents a number of dangers to those who venture outside. One of the most dangerous things that occur during freezing weather is hypothermia. Victims often do not realize that they are in danger until it is too late. Once hypothermia sets in, they may find it difficult to think clearly, making a bad situation worse.
The best way to combat hypothermia is to prevent it in the first place. Dressing in layers of warm, loose clothing and keeping your head covered are the most important things you can do. Staying active enough to keep warm but not tiring yourself out is also important. Even if you do all of these things it is still important to know the signs of hypothermia. Here they are:
* Uncontrollable Shivering – When you shiver the body is attempting to generate heat because it is too cold. If shivering doesn’t subside quickly that’s your body’s way of telling you that you need to seek a source of heat.
* Fatigue – Hypothermia victims will begin to feel tired or lethargic. They may also develop a sense of apathy. These symptoms make it more difficult for victims to seek help.
* Decreased Coordination – Those suffering from hypothermia become uncoordinated. They often stumbling about and become unable to do things with their hands that would normally be easy.
* Confusion – This is one of the most dangerous symptoms of hypothermia. Victims lose their ability to think coherently and make decisions. They may mumble or speak incoherently. Their mental state could render them unable to fend for themselves.
First Aid for Hypothermia
Venturing out for long periods in freezing temperature it is important not to be alone. If you fall victim to hypothermia, having someone with you could be the difference between life and death. It is much easier to recognize the signs in someone else than it is to recognize them in yourself.
If you or someone you know shows signs of hypothermia, prompt treatment is critical. Here is what needs to be done:
* Lay the person flat and keep them warm. Remove wet clothing if possible and replace it with dry clothes. Wrap the person in blankets. Be as gentle as possible because rough handling could cause cardiac arrest.
* Give the victim warm liquids if they are conscious. This will help them warm up from the inside. Be sure, however, not to give them caffeine or alcohol. These things can get in the way of the body’s natural heat production.
* If the victim is unconscious keep a check on their breathing and heartbeat. CPR or rescue breathing may become necessary.
* Call for qualified medical help as soon as possible. Hypothermia sufferers need prompt medical attention beyond first aid.