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First Aid Basics: “Dealing with Hypothermia”

August 8, 2012

With the snow that we have been experiencing all over South Africa (and many of us wishing for more), a very real thought is the cold and the way in which it can effect someone that is not able to warm up.

If a person is shivering, pale and cold to touch- they could be experiencing HYPOTHERMIA. (Disorientation, and a slow breathing rate are also symptoms, as well as the fact that their temperature may be below 35 degrees Celsius.)

What is Hypothermia?

It’s when a person’s core temperature falls below the level for normal body functions to take place, resulting in a reduction of circulation of blood around the body, especially to the skin. (It does not necessarily mean that you have to be outdoors to experience this.)

What should I do?

  • It is advisable to call an emergency medical contact, or have someone else do it.
  • Then do what you can to warm the person slowly, reassuring them the entire time. Replace any wet clothes with dry clothes, and if they are outside get them inside. Blankets, additional clothes, sheets and towels can be used to keep them warm. Give them something to drink that is warm, such as soup or hot chocolate. (Avoid caffeine and alcohol.) Also give the person a high-energy food product.

Frostbite is not as common as Hypothermia, but usually happens in extremely cold conditions too. Fingers and toes are affected, becoming pale or blue and loose sensation or feeling. In this instance, gently warm their fingers or toes (you can use warm water), while waiting for help to arrive. (DO NOT TRY TO THAW OUT AN AFFECTED BODY PART IF THERE IS CHANCE THAT IT MAY REFREEZE.)

Time saves lives, Helivac saves both!

“Helivac is a complete emergency medical solution comprising affordable air medical transportation with advanced, rapid response medical care and state of the art equipment for all members through a single emergency number: 0861 HELIVAC (South Africa)”

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