Hypothermia can, unless treated quickly, be fatal. If you suspect someone is affected by extreme hypothermia, it is imperative to call for medical assistance and provide treatment as quickly as possible.
Mild and moderate hypothermia
While waiting for assistance, treat mild and moderate hypothermia by:
- Bringing the person somewhere warm or indoors as soon as you can
- Carefully removing wet clothing and drying the affected individual
- Wrapping the person in warm towels, blankets, coats or whatever else is to hand, making sure to first of all protect the head and torso
- Encouraging the affected person to shiver
- Giving him or her warm drinks, chocolate or other high energy foods to help them warm up – this should only be done if the person can swallow normally, which can be determined by asking them to cough
- Keeping them dry and warm once their body temperature increases
It is also important to handle hypothermia victims carefully and gently. You should also under no circumstances:
- Put cold people into hot baths
- Massage their limbs
- Use heating lamps
- Give them alcohol
Doing any of this could cause a dramatic reduction of blood pressure to vital organs and subsequent death by cardiac arrest.
Indicated by confusion, distress and shallow, slow breathing, as well as loss of consciousness, extreme hypothermia necessitates urgent hospital treatment.
Call 999 and, if the individual loses consciousness and does not appear to be breathing or has no pulse while waiting for the ambulance to arrive, administer CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
Ideally, the affected person should be taken to a hospital with units regularly performing heart surgery or specialist emergency services to ensure the equipment necessary for the advanced medical techniques required to aid extreme hypothermia sufferers is available.
Causes of extreme hypothermia
Hypothermia is caused by prolonged exposure to very cold environments. In a work accident scenario, a worker may, for instance, become trapped in a walk-in freezer.
Your rights as an employee
Your employer is responsible for your health and safety. If you suffer from hypothermia or were injured at work because your employer did not protect you against work-related accidents or exposure to excessive cold, you could be eligible to claim work injury compensation.
Call us, Accident Advice Helpline, from a mobile phone on 0333 500 0993, or a landline on 0800 689 0500, now for more detailed information.
Date Published: April 6, 2016
Author: Accident Advice