Hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature. Normal body temperature is around 98.6 F (37 C). Hypothermia occurs as your body temperature drops below 95 F (35 C).

When your body temperature drops, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up your body's stored energy. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know it is happening and won't be able to do anything about it. Hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, but it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water. Victims of hypothermia are often
  • elderly people with inadequate food, clothing, or heating
  • babies sleeping in cold bedrooms
  • people who remain outdoors for long periods—the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc.
  • people who drink alcohol or use illicit drugs.
Warning Signs of Hypothermia
  • shivering
  • exhaustion
  • confusion, fumbling
  • memory loss
  • slurred speech
  • drowsiness
  • bright red, cold skin
  • very low energy
What to Do
If you suspect hypothermia, take the person's temperature. If it is below 95°, the situation is an emergency and the person need immediate medical attention. If medical care is not available, begin warming the person, as follows:
  • Move the victim to a warm area indoors or whatever is available
  • If the victim is wet, remove their clothing.
  • Warm the center of the body first—chest, neck, head, and groin—using an electric blanket if available. If not, use skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels, or sheets.
  • Warm beverages can help increase the body temperature, but do not give alcoholic beverages. Do not try to give beverages to an unconscious person.
  • After body temperature has increased, keep the person dry and wrapped in a warm blanket, including the head and neck.
  • Get medical attention as soon as possible.
A person with severe hypothermia may be unconscious and may not seem to have a pulse or to be breathing. In this case, handle the victim gently, and get emergency assistance immediately. Even if the victim appears dead, CPR should be provided. CPR should continue while the victim is being warmed, until the victim responds or medical aid becomes available. In some cases, hypothermia victims who appear to be dead can be successfully resuscitated.

More Information: