Emergency: Hypothermia - First Aid

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Emergency: Hypothermia - First Aid
Emergency: Hypothermia - First Aid

Video: Emergency: Hypothermia - First Aid

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Video: Cold Related Emergencies 2023, January
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Emergency: hypothermia

The normal core temperature of an adult is around 37 ° C. Hypothermia is when it drops below 35 ° C. Hypothermia occurs when the body loses more heat than it can generate over a longer period of time. This can happen by being outdoors in cold, windy weather, in cold water or in cold apartments. But rain and perspiration can also cool the body if it is not adequately protected by the right clothing. Severe hypothermia is life-threatening as important organs can no longer function properly.

Children, the elderly and exhausted people are particularly susceptible to hypothermia. Certain medications can also increase the risk of hypothermia, as can alcohol and drug use.

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  • What are the signs of hypothermia?
  • How can I provide first aid?
  • Interesting facts about hypothermia: Risk of rescue death

What are the signs of hypothermia?

As the hypothermia progresses and the body temperature continues to drop, the symptoms change.

Early signs are:

  • Cold feet and hands
  • rapid breathing,
  • fast heartbeat,
  • pale skin tone,
  • Tremble,
  • slow, indistinct speech, weak voice,
  • Fatigue as well
  • Confusion.

Advanced signs are:

  • Clumsiness, slow movement and coordination,
  • Drowsiness, indifference,
  • slow heartbeat,
  • slow breathing,
  • Loss of consciousness,
  • the pupils are rigid, dilated and do not respond to light,
  • Respiratory and cardiac arrest.

With severe hypothermia there is a risk of cardiac arrhythmias; these can lead to ventricular fibrillation and cardiac arrest.

How can I provide first aid?

If a person shows signs of hypothermia, do the following:

  • Dial the emergency number 144 or 112 or the mountain rescue on 140, especially if there are signs of advanced hypothermia, such as indifference or confusion.
  • Check the hypothermic person's awareness: speak and shake gently.
  • If you pass out or suddenly lose consciousness, check your breathing and airway:

    • Breathing is normal: place the person on their side in a stable position. Check your breathing again and again until the emergency services arrive!
    • Not breathing normally: start resuscitation immediately. 30x chest compressions, 2x ventilation. Repeat this until the rescue workers are on site or the person shows signs of life. Make sure you get help and take turns with another helper!

Note The following applies to hypothermia: “Nobody is dead unless they are warm and dead.” The low core body temperature triggers protective mechanisms that protect the brain from consequential damage. This leaves more time to resuscitate people who are hypothermic than at normal body temperature.

More on the subject: first aid measures

Reheating measures

  • If possible, move the person to a warm room. Danger! In the case of severe hypothermia, the affected person may only be moved with extreme caution! This can lead to a sudden redistribution of the blood (cold blood from the hands and legs flows to the middle of the body), which can trigger life-threatening heart rhythm disorders!
  • If a warm, protected room cannot be reached, for example in the mountains: Protect the hypothermic person from wind and cold. If the person is lying down, it is important to protect them against the coldness of the ground, for example with a rescue blanket.
  • If possible, remove wet clothing (by cutting it open, the person concerned must be moved as little as possible!) And cover the person with dry blankets etc.
  • Warm up the affected person slowly in the middle of the body (chest, neck or groin) and on the head, eg with warm towels. Hot water bottles are wrapped in fabric so as not to cause burns. The hypothermic person can possibly be warmed up with their own body.
  • Offer the person warm, sweet, and non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Stay with the person until the rescue arrives and check their state of health (consciousness, circulation, breathing).

In general, the following applies: The supply of hypothermia always has priority over frostbite.

Caution:

  • The person should not be rewarmed too quickly, e.g. not taking a hot bath.
  • Never use direct heat sources such as heating pads or hot water.
  • Do not massage or warm your arms and legs, as the cold blood can lead to cardiovascular disorders.
  • No alcohol or cigarettes! The vasodilator effect increases the loss of heat and hinders rewarming.

Interesting facts about hypothermia: Risk of rescue death

A special phenomenon in severely hypothermic people is the so-called rescue death. The person dies immediately after the rescue. The cause is blood redistribution. In the cold, the body continuously loses heat. So that the body temperature does not decrease further, the blood flow to the body surface is reduced and the warm blood is concentrated in the so-called core of the body. As a result of this body's own measure, the temperature in the body shell drops further. The large temperature difference between the core and shell of the body is a great danger. By moving the extremities and repositioning during recovery, cold blood flows to the core of the body. There is a sudden drop in core temperature with serious cardiac arrhythmia. Rapid movements should therefore be avoided during relocation or transport.

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