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First aid for hypothermia

Hypothermia corresponds to a decrease in body temperature, which stays below 35 ° C and can happen when you remain without proper equipment in harsh winter conditions or after accidents in icy water, for example. In these cases, body heat can escape quickly through the skin, leading to the onset of hypothermia.

Hypothermia can be fatal and therefore it is very important to start first aid as soon as possible to preserve the body temperature:

  1. Take the person to a warm place, where they are protected from the cold;
  2. Remove the wet clothes, if necessary; 
  3. Put blankets on the person and maintain their neck and head very warm;
  4. Put warm water bottles on the blanket or other devices that help increase body temperature
  5. Offer a hot drink, but you should avoid coffee and alcoholic beverages, because they increase the loss of heat.

During this process, and if possible, one should try to keep the body temperature monitored using a thermometer. This makes it easier to assess whether the temperature is increasing or not. If the temperature goes below 33 °, medical attention should be sought immediately.

If the person has lost consciousness they should lie on their side and wrapped in warm clothing, avoiding in these cases, giving liquids or putting something else in the mouth, as it can cause suffocation. In addition, it is important to stay alert, because the person may stop breathing. If this happens medical help is needed to start cardiac massage to keep the blood circulating in the body.

First aid for hypothermia

What not to do

In cases of hypothermia it is not recommended to directly apply heat, such as hot water or a heat lamp, for example, as it may cause burns. In addition, if the victim is unconscious or unable to swallow, it is not recommended to give drinks as it may cause choking and vomiting.

It is also not recommended, you give alcoholic beverages to the victim as well as coffee, since they can alter the blood circulation, also interfering in the process of corporal heating.

How does hypothermia affect the body

When the body is exposed to very low temperatures, it starts processes that try to raise the temperature and correct the loss of heat. It is for this reason that one of the first signs of cold is the appearance of tremors. These tremors are involuntary movements of the muscles of the body that try to produce energy and heat.

In addition, the brain also causes vasoconstriction, which causes the body's vessels to become narrower, especially at the extremities, such as the hands or feet, preventing too much heat from being wasted.

Finally, in the most severe cases of hypothermia, the body slows down the activity of the brain, heart, and liver to try to reduce the heat loss that occurs when these organs are functioning normally.

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