Hypothermia is a serious medical condition resulting from exposure to extreme cold conditions. The main symptoms include intense shivering, cold, pale skin, slowed breathing, confusion and lethargy and slurred speech. The person may not be aware they are suffering from hypothermia as the symptoms can develop slowly. However, if you suspect someone you know may be suffering from hypothermia then there are some steps you can take to help. The first thing to do is call emergency assistance, even if you are unsure if the person is suffering from hypothermia. Monitor breathing and move the person out of the cold immediately. Do not put them straight into a warm bath or try to apply direct heat to the patient, such as a lamp or heater. This could cause your friend to go into shock. Warm compresses can be applied to the head, chest, neck and groin but not the arms and legs. Any wet or cold clothing should be removed first and replaced with dry clothing. If breathing seems to slow down extremely or stops completely and you know CPR, perform it on the patient. Do not attempt to massage the patient warm or give them alcohol to drink. If they are not vomiting, other fluids can be given.
How could hypothermia occur?
Many older people may suffer from hypothermia if they simply forget to regularly heat their home or they cannot afford to properly heat their home in cold winters. Hypothermia can also occur when someone is exposed to wet or damp conditions such as a cold lake or the sea. Children are more susceptible to hypothermia if they fall into cold water or if they are exposed to extreme cold weather. Accidents can happen if there is improper supervision on a child’s day trip near water or even on a winter holiday. If you or your child has suffered from hypothermia because of an accident in cold or freezing water or you have suffered from the condition as a result of an accident, Accident Advice Helpline may be able to help you. You can call us for help and assistance if you wish to make a personal injury compensation claim. Where there is evidence someone has been negligent, you may be rewarded with a cash payout with the help of our expert solicitors.