The human body reacts to cold by contracting blood vessels near the skin o move warm blood to the center of the body. As a result, less heat will escape through the skin and the result is that the body stays warm. When this system fails, shivering starts which produces heat through muscle action.
When both system fail, the entire body begins to cool resulting in hypothermia. If untreated, hypothermia can lead to death has the heart begins to beat irregular and then finally stops altogether.
Causes of Hypothermia
You need to be exposed to the cold for hypothermia to set it. However, be warned that the elderly and sick can get hypothermia even if the temperature does not drop below freezing. Other factors that can result in hypothermia include:
- Cold wind and windchill.
- Being in water or being wet.
- Being tired or dehydrated.
- More common in the very young or older population.
- Having certain circulatory conditions.
- Length of time being exposed to the cold.
Prevention of Hypothermia
- Dress properly with layers of clothing made of materials that trap air in the fibers.
- Take regular breaks from being outside.
- Drink plenty of warms fluids to stay hydrated.
- If shivering sets in, get indoors quickly.
- Change in to dry clothes if the ones you're wearing become wet.
Signs and Symptoms of Hypothermia
- Shivering, which may stop as the condition worsens.
- Unusual behavior.
- Lack of coordination.
- Arms and legs get numb as the body redirects blood to the core of the body.
- Decreased body temperature.
First Aid for Hypothermia
- Remove wet clothing and replace with dry ones.
- Warm the casualty gradually using body heat, hot water bottles, heating pads. Do not place hot items directly on the skin and warm the person slowly.
- If the casualty is alert give them warm fluids to drink.
- Seek medical help if the person's condition gets worse or the person becomes unresponsive.