ST JOHN AMBULANCE: How to deal with hypothermia

A casualty with hypothermia may be shivering and pale with cold, dry skin
A casualty with hypothermia may be shivering and pale with cold, dry skin

St John Ambulance, the nation’s leading first aid charity has teamed up with the Littlehampton Gazette to bring you some simple, but life saving, first aid tips – this week: recognising and dealing with hypothermia.

Hypothermia develops when the body temperature falls below 35°C (95°F).

The effects of the condition vary depending on the speed of the onset and the level to which the body temperature falls.

Moderate hypothermia can usually be completely reversed.

Severe hypothermia, when the core body temperature falls below 30°C (86°F), can be fatal.

However, no matter how low the body temperature falls, it is always worth persisting with life saving procedures until medical help arrives.

Follow these simple steps to recognise the condition and to help:

• A casualty with hypothermia may be shivering and pale with cold, dry skin. They may become disoriented, apathetic, lethargic or irrational.

• Breathing may become slow and shallow and the pulse slow and weakening.

• In extreme cases the heart might stop.

• Move the casualty to a sheltered place, preferably indoors.

• Remove any wet clothing and provide dry clothing or blankets and cover their head. Don’t give the casualty your own clothes.

• If outdoors, provide a layer of insulation between the casualty and the ground and shelter them from the wind.

• Call 999/112 for emergency help. If you need to send someone for help, make sure someone stays with the casualty at all times.

• If possible, give the casualty warm drinks and high energy foods such as chocolate. Do not give the casualty alcohol as this can make the condition worse.

• The casualty must be re-warmed gradually.

Monitor vital signs, level of response, breathing, pulse and temperature until medical help arrives.

• For those looking for quick, easily accessible first aid information, the St John Ambulance app is available free on smartphones and the website {http://www.sja.org.uk/sja/default.aspx |(www.sja.org.uk)|www.sja.org.uk} offers demo videos, an interactive game, and lots of free advice. For more information about first aid courses please call 0303 003 0101.

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