Learn first aid for someone who has hypothermia
1. The environment is cold. The person may be shivering, pale and cold to touch. They may also be confused.
Many instances of hypothermia occur inside when there is cold weather and a lack of heating.
2. Call 999 as soon as possible.
If you can’t call 999, get someone else to do it.
3. Warm the person and reassure them until help arrives.
You can warm them by wrapping them in a blanket and giving them warm drinks and high-energy foods, such as chocolate.
Watch how to help someone who has hypothermia (3 minutes 13 seconds)
Common questions about first aid for someone who has hypothermia
What is hypothermia?
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. This is why the person’s skin will feel cold to touch. Many instances of hypothermia occur inside when there is cold weather and a lack of heating.
How can I tell if someone has hypothermia?
The person will be somewhere cold and may:
- be shivering, pale and cold to touch
- be confused
- be breathing more slowly
- have a temperature below 35 degrees Celsius.
What drinks or food can I give someone who has hypothermia?
You can give them warm drinks such as soup or hot chocolate, or energy-rich foods like chocolate. Do not give them alcohol.
What if I don't have a blanket?
You could use additional clothing, sheets or towels to warm the person.
What should I do if the person is outside?
If they are 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 items such as bin bags, newspaper or cardboard to help warm them and protect them from the cold ground.
If the person is outside, will they also have frostbite?
Frostbite is much less common than hypothermia because it usually happens in extreme cold conditions.
When someone has frostbite, their fingers, toes or extremities will become pale or blue and lose feeling.
To help someone with frostbite, gently warm their fingers or toes – for example, 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.
For more information on what to do if someone has hypothermia, visit the NHS website. During life-threatening emergencies, call 999, or for non-emergency medical help, call 111.
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