Tips to prevent the threat of hypothermia


You may not know what the term hypothermia means but you surely know the first sign of the emergency medical condition: shivering.

Hypothermia happens when your body loses heat to the point that your body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

Your body's first reaction is to aggressively try to warm its inside by shivering-- as your muscles start to move in an effort to create heat.

Dr. Mike Patrick, who is an emergency medical expert at Nationwide Children's Hospital, said it can happen in a matter of minutes.

"The colder it is outside the quicker it's going to happen. If you're not wearing a lot of layers of clothing. Young children and infants it happens faster because they have more body surface area compared to the mass of their body so there's more room for heat to leave," he said.

Children lose heat faster than adults, which is why outdoor supervision is important. It is critical to make kids take breaks so they can get inside where it's warm.

Warming can also include turning up the thermostat, covering up with blankets and sipping warm beverages.

Medical experts advise dressing in multiple layers of thinner clothing which will act as a sort of insulation as the warm air gets trapped between the layers.

Shivering is the first symptom of hypothermia, but it can be followed by a number of others including confusion, slurred speech, and a weak pulse.

Dr. Patrick told us that if shivering does not improve and progresses to confusion, it is time to get to the emergency department.

Medical experts can help improve the symptoms with warm blankets, warmed oxygen and in cases where it's warranted warmed intravenous saline.