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Lesson 12: Hypothermia Emergency Reference Guide p. 62-63 PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Lesson 12: Hypothermia Emergency Reference Guide p. 62-63. Does it Have to be Cold to Get Hypothermia?. Objectives. Describe mechanisms of heat loss Define hypothermia List signs & symptoms Demonstrate emergency treatment for mild to severe hypothermia

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Lesson 12: Hypothermia Emergency Reference Guide p. 62-63

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Lesson 12:Hypothermia Emergency Reference Guide p. 62-63

Does it Have to be Cold to Get Hypothermia?


  • Describe mechanisms of heat loss

  • Define hypothermia

  • List signs & symptoms

  • Demonstrate emergency treatment for mild to severe hypothermia

  • Describe situations requiring evacuation

  • Describe methods for prevention

Myth or Reality?

  • True or False?

    • 70F or below describes “cold” water

    • A living body always produces heat

    • Hypothermia is contagious, if one person has it, all should be treated

    • A patient with severe hypothermia complains of being cold

    • Wet clothing from rain/sweat can contribute to hypothermia

Key Points

  • Humans maintain normal temperature by:

    • Heat generated by metabolism

    • Heat gained by outside source (i.e. fire/sun)

    • Muscular activity, shivering/exercise

  • Heat is shed by:

    • Radiation from skin

    • Conduction via contact with cold surfaces

    • Convection: movement of air over skin

    • Evaporation of moisture from skin

    • Respiration

Key Points (cont’d.)

  • Normal core temperature is 98.6F

  • Hypothermia occurs when core drops to point where muscle or brain function impaired

  • Hypothermia may be mild to severe

  • Does not have to be “cold” to become hypothermic

Signs/Symptoms for Mild Hypothermia

  • Shivering

  • “umbles”

    • Inability to perform tasks: “fumbles”

    • Confusion, apathy, sluggish, “grumbles”

    • Slurred speech, “mumbles”

    • Altered gait, “stumbles”

Signs/Symptoms for Moderate Hypothermia

  • Worsening of the “umbles”

  • Uncontrollable or violent shivering

  • Confusion or unusual behavior

  • Impaired judgment

Care for Mild to Moderate Hypothermia

  • Ways to warm up someone:

    • Change environment

    • Replace wet clothes

    • Move out of wind /cold into a sheltered area

    • Cover all exposed skin

    • Drink/eat simple carbohydrates. Digestion produces internal heat. Do not drink caffeine/alcohol

    • Insulate from ground

Care for Mild to Moderate Hypothermia (cont’d.)

  • Bundle in dry insulation

  • Snuggle with warm person

  • Place hot water bottle or chemical heat packs near patients heart and in armpits

  • If patient can exercise, encourage it to produce heat

  • Fluids are more important than solids:

    • Warm sweet drink best

    • Even cold drinks better than no fluids

  • Care for Mild to Moderate Hypothermia (cont’d.)

    • If patient goes to sleep, wake periodically to check condition

    • Patient with moderate hypothermia may “think” they are not cold. Watch for altered mental state/judgment

    • If patient can still move adequately, may resume activities after initial care

    • Wait until patient returns to normal perform preceding

    Signs/Symptoms of Severe Hypothermia

    • Shivering stops

    • Muscle rigidity increases

    • Mental state worsens, stupor to coma

    • State of awareness: semi-conscious to unconscious

    • Pulse & respiration rate decrease, may be difficult to detect

    • Complaining stops

    Care for Severe Hypothermia

    • Handle gently, roughness can overload cold heart & stop it

    • If not breathing, perform rescue breathing (CPR) for at least 3 min. prior to moving

    • Start to warm patient, same as mild to moderate hypothermia

    • Warming too quickly/too much movement may cause cold blood from extremities to rush to heart & stop it

    Care for Severe Hypothermia (cont’d.)

    • Use hypothermia wrap, vapor barrier to trap any heat inside:

      • Wrap patient in tent fly, sheet of plastic, etc.

      • Leave face exposed & monitor airway/breathing

    • Do not force food/liquids

    • Care for patient even, if they appear dead

    • Call for help immediately, do not evacuate, unless it can be done gently

    Guidelines for Evacuation

    • Mild & Moderate cases will likely recover, may remain in the field

    • GO FAST for severe cases. Evacuate with extreme care. Do not jostle the patient

    Preventing Hypothermia

    • Far easier to maintain core temp than to regain it:

      • Prevent heat loss

      • Terminate exposure

      • Detect early warning signs & treat early

      • Replace wet clothes quickly

    • What you wear has major effect on preventing hypothermia

    Preventing Hypothermia (cont’d.)

    • Types of Clothing for Preventing Hypothermia

      • Silk, wool & synthetics designed to wick moisture away

      • Layers of clothing help you stay dry

      • Layers help regulate temperature better

      • Hats prevent heat loss through head (major source of loss)

        • If feet are cold, put on a hat

      • Protect hands & feet, change socks often

      • Rain gear/water proof boots

    Preventing Hypothermia (cont’d.)

    • Avoid Cotton (traps moisture)

    • Maintain hydration

    • Avoid alcohol & caffeine

    • Eat regularly, especially carbohydrates

    • Stay active, but don’t over exert

    • Know the weather, be prepared for changing conditions

    Preventing Hypothermia (cont’d.)

    • Terminate exposure early:

      • If you can’t stay warm/dry, get out of wind & rain

      • Set up camp early, before you are exhausted

    • Early Detection:

      • Watch yourself & others for behavior /exposure that can lead to hypothermia

      • Care for signs early, monitor others, if one has symptoms

      • Being cold affects judgment, believe the signs not the patient

    Questions???What else could you add to your First Aid Kit?

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