Hypothermia - Treatment
Low body temperature; Cold exposure
- If any symptoms of hypothermia are present, especially confusion or changes in mental status, immediately call 911.
- If the person is unconscious, check airway, breathing, and circulation. If necessary, begin rescue breathing or CPR. If the victim is breathing fewer than 6 breaths per minute, begin rescue breathing.
- Take the person inside to room temperature and cover him or her with warm blankets. If going indoors is not possible, get the person out of the wind and use a blanket to provide insulation from the cold ground. Cover the person's head and neck to help retain body heat.
- Once inside, remove any wet or constricting clothes and replace them with dry clothing.
- Warm the person. If necessary, use your own body heat to aid the warming. Apply warm compresses to the neck, chest wall, and groin. If the person is alert and can easily swallow, give warm, sweetened, nonalcoholic fluids to aid the warming.
- Stay with the person until medical help arrives.
- Do NOT assume that someone found lying motionless in the cold is already dead.
- Do NOT use direct heat (such as hot water, a heating pad, or a heat lamp) to warm the person.
- Do NOT give the person alcohol!
Call immediately for emergency medical assistance if:
Call 911 anytime you suspect someone has hypothermia. Give first aid while awaiting emergency assistance.
- Reviewed last on: 1/14/2010
- Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
Danzl DF. Accidental hypothermia. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, eds. Rosenâ€™s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby; 2009:chap 138.
Bessen HA. Hypothermia. In: Tintinalli JE, Kelen GD, Stapczynski JS, Ma OJ, Cline DM, eds. Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 6th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2004:chap 192.
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