With cold winter weather here in Colorado, we sometimes need to think about hypothermia. The following from the CDC is what you need to know about it, who is at risk, and what to do if you or a loved one has it. What is hypothermia?
With cold winter weather here in Colorado, we sometimes need to think about hypothermia. The following from the CDC is what you need to know about it, who is at risk, and what to do if you or a loved one has it.
What is hypothermia?
- Hypothermia is caused by prolonged exposure to very cold temperatures. When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it is produced. Lengthy exposures will eventually use up your body’s stored energy, which leads to lower body temperature.
- Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know that it’s happening and won’t be able to do anything about it.
- While hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water.
Who’s most at risk?
Victims of hypothermia are often:
- Older adults with inadequate food, clothing, or heating
- Babies sleeping in cold bedrooms
- People who remain outdoors for long periods—the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc.
- People who drink alcohol or use illicit drugs.
What are the signs and symptoms of hypothermia?
The following are warning signs of hypothermia:
- Exhaustion or feeling very tired
- Fumbling hands
- Memory loss
- Slurred speech
- bright red, cold skin
- very low energy
Don’t wait – take action
Hypothermia is a medical emergency. If you notice any of the above signs, take the person’s temperature. If it is below 95° F, get medical attention immediately!
Still have questions about hypothermia? It’s important that you and your family are prepared, especially if you get into cold weather situations. Talk to your doctor about what you can do to avoid it and what to do if someone you know get it.