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More information about helping people who havehypothermia

Here are some questions people often ask. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, please feel free to email us at firstaid@redcross.org.uk or use this form.

Q

What is hypothermia?

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Answer

Hypothermia is when a person’s body temperature gets so low that they have reduced circulation of blood around the body, particularly to their skin.  Many instances of hypothermia occur inside when there is cold weather and a lack of heating.

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Q

What are the signs and symptoms of hypothermia?

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The person will be in a cold place.  They may be shivering, pale and cold to touch. They may also be disorientated.  Their breathing rate may become slower and their temperature will be below 35 degrees centigrade.

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Q

What should I do if the person is outside?

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If the person is outside, get them inside if you can, and replace any wet clothes with dry clothes. If you have to stay outside, you could wrap the person in plastic sheeting, newspaper or cardboard to help warm them and protect them from the cold ground.

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Q

If the person is outside, will they also have frostbite?

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Frostbite usually happens to fingers or toes in extreme cold conditions and is much less common than hypothermia. Fingers, toes or extremities become pale or blue and lose sensation and feeling. Gently warm their fingers or toes, such as with warm water, while waiting for help to arrive.  Don’t try to thaw the affected body part if there is any chance that it will refreeze.

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Q

What drinks or food can I give someone with hypothermia?

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You can give the person warm drinks such as soup or hot chocolate, or foods like chocolate.

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Q

What if I don't have a blanket?

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You could use additional clothing, sheets or towels to warm the person.

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