How to Prevent Hypothermia
Ideally, a human body’s temperature should be between 35˚C and 37˚C or 95˚F and 98.6˚F. In certain conditions, it may go below this temperature range and you become the victim of hypothermia. Usually, this happens when you are exposed to cold temperatures for long periods of time, and your body is not able to produce as much heat as it is losing, though it can also occur due to burns. When your body temperature goes below the normal range, your nervous system, organs and heart stop working normally. If left untreated, it may eventually lead to complete failure of the heart, leading to death. If you are heading for exposure to cold weather conditions, read this oneHOWTO article to know how to prevent hypothermia.
Have a look at the weather forecast
If you are planning to go to an extremely cold location, try to assess its weather forecast during that period. Even if the temperatures are going to be fine, hypothermia may strike you in case of wind, rain or snow. So, having a look at the weather forecast may help you go prepared for the extreme, and even cancel your trip if needed.
If you are going to spend the night outdoors and if it is cold weather outside (below 5˚C to 10˚C or 50˚ Fahrenheit is considered a risk) , then don’t forget to take appropriate clothing and a sleeping bag too. There are special sleeping bags designed for cold weathers. So, make sure that your sleeping bag is adequate as per requirements.
Cover your body with layers of fabric
Covering your body with layers of fabric is a very effective way of preventing hypothermia. A single layer of clothing will not be enough to stay protected from cold weather. Cover yourself with several layers, and pack some extras as well, in case they get wet. Certain body parts are more sensitive than the others and loose heat more easily and quickly, so take care of the following areas:
- Armpits groin
You need to keep these areas well protected with several layers of clothing if needed. Feet and hands may easily get frostbite, due to which it is important to keep them layered with gloves and socks.
Make sure the clothes you choose fit you loosely and are not very heavy, which is we advise you to wear cotton, fleece, nylon, wool and polypropylene materials.
Try to stay dry at all times
If you are trying to prevent hypothermia, then moisture may prove to be your worst rival. If you need to walk through wet areas like through a river or in the snow, then do not forget to wear your waterproof shoes. Their waterproof cover will keep your legs and feet dry. You can prevent sweat by not over-exerting yourself as well.
Even your own sweat can be dangerous if your body temperature starts dropping and you need to keep the heat. Also avoid wearing cotton fabrics as an inner layer in cold weather, as it will breathe too much, will get wet quickly and take hours to dry up as well. If it has started to rain, you should take shelter wherever you can to avoid getting wet. If you have got wet by any chance, change your wet clothes quickly and put on your dry clothes. This is why it is extremely important to pack some extra clothes in your bag.
In order to ward off moisture, wear a base layer that will keep your skin completely dry. Find a thin layer that has wicking properties and that wards perspiration.
Look for signs of hypothermia
Some sure signs of hypothermia include the following:
- Fast breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Lack of coordination
- Slurred speech
- Weak pulse
If you have an infant with you, look for signs like red skin, weak cry and low energy. As soon as you notice these symptoms, drop the idea of continuing your expedition and take immediate shelter in a warm covered place.
What should you do if you suspect someone is suffering with Hypothermia?
The first thing you should do if you recognize the signs of hypothermia is call an ambulance, as the person will need emergency treatment.
However, while you wait for professional help, you can apply some first aid by making sure the person is indoors and warm the person up, making sure he or she is wearing no wet clothes (take them off if the person is wearing them).
Wrap the person in blankets, dry towels or a coat, making sure their head and chest is totally covered.
Take some hot beverages like tea, coffee, soup, but not alcohol. You can warm up the sensitive body parts with heating pads or hot water bottles.
If the person has extremely low pulse or is unconscious, try to give him or her CPR and call for emergency medical help.
This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to How to Prevent Hypothermia, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.
- If you are in conditions where you can be at risk of hypothermia, do not drink alcohol under any circumstances to stay warm!