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Hypothermia: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments
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Hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature, is a dangerous condition that can occur when a person is exposed to extremely cold temperatures.
Stay safe this winter by learning more about hypothermia, including who is most at risk, signs and symptoms, and what to do if someone develops hypothermia.
What is Hypothermia?
Hypothermia is caused by prolonged exposures to very cold temperatures. When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it’s produced. Lengthy exposures will eventually use up your body’s stored energy, which leads to lower body temperature.
Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia especially dangerous, because a person may not know that it’s happening and won’t be able to do anything about it.
While hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water.
Who’s Most at Risk?
Victims of hypothermia are often:
Older adults with inadequate food, clothing, or heating
Babies sleeping in cold bedrooms
People who remain outdoors for long periods—the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc.
People who drink alcohol or use illicit drugs.
Warnings signs of hypothermia:
confusion, fumbling hands
memory loss, slurred speech drowsiness
bright red, cold skin
very low energy
Don’t Wait- Take Action
If you notice any of these signs, take the person’s temperature. If it is below 95° F, the situation is an emergency—get medical attention immediately.
If medical care is not available, begin warming the person, as follows:
Get the victim into a warm room or shelter.
If the victim has on any wet clothing, remove it.
Warm the center of the body first—chest, neck, head, and groin—using an electric blanket, if available. You can also use skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels, or sheets.
Warm beverages can help increase body temperature, but do not give alcoholic beverages. Do not try to give beverages to an unconscious person.
After body temperature has increased, keep the person dry and wrapped in a warm blanket, including the head and neck.
Get medical attention as soon as possible.
A person with severe hypothermia may be unconscious and may not seem to have a pulse or to be breathing. In this case, handle the victim gently, and get emergency assistance immediately.
Do not Rapidly Rewarm a Severely Hypothermic Person:
Even if the victim appears dead, CPR should be provided. CPR should continue while the victim is being warmed, until the victim responds or medical aid becomes available. In some cases, hypothermia victims who appear to be dead can be successfully resuscitated.
Taking a first aid and emergency resuscitation (CPR) course is a good way to prepare for cold-weather health problems. Knowing what to do is an important part of protecting your health and the health of others.
Taking preventive action is your best defense against having to deal with extreme cold-weather conditions. By preparing your home and car in advance for winter emergencies, and by observing safety precautions during times of extremely cold weather, you can reduce the risk of weather-related health problems.
Don’t Miss our upcoming class at the Center For Wooden Boats
Today we live in a world where terrorism, the actions of unstable people, and the dangerous impulses of friends and relatives are very real and becoming increasingly more frequent.
Massive bleeding from any cause, but particularly from an active shooter or explosive event where a response is delayed can result in death. Similar to how the general public learns and performs CPR, the public must learn proper bleeding control techniques, including how to use their hands, dressings, and tourniquets. Victims can quickly die from uncontrolled bleeding, within 5 to 10 minutes.
However, anyone at the scene can act as immediate responder and save lives if they know what to do. BleedingControl.org supports the President’s policy for national preparedness as a shared responsibility of the government, the private and nonprofit sectors, and individual citizens.
BleedingControl.org is an initiative of the American College of Surgeons and the Hartford Consensus and contains diagrams, news, videos, and other resources contributed by a variety of other private and nonprofit partners to help prepare you in the event you are witness to one of these unspeakable events.
Our shared goal is to provide you with a one-stop, online resource to credible information on bleeding control. We hope you will never need to use this information, but if you do, at least you will have the assurance that the information is credible and timely.
Call 9-1-1 yourself
Tell someone to call 9-1-1
Ensure Your Safety
Before you offer any help, you must ensure your own safety!
If you become injured, you will not be able to help the victim.
Provide care to the injured person if the scene is safe for you to do so.
If, at any time, your safety is threatened, attempt to remove yourself (and the victim if possible) from danger and find a safe location.
Protect yourself from blood-borne infections by wearing gloves, if available.
Look for Life-Threatening Bleeding
Find the source of bleeding
Open or remove the clothing over the wound so you can clearly see it. By removing clothing, you will be able to see injuries that may have been hidden or covered.
Look for and identify “life-threatening” bleeding. Examples include:
Blood that is spurting out of the wound.
Blood that won’t stop coming out of the wound.
Blood that is pooling on the ground.
Clothing that is soaked with blood.
Bandages that are soaked with blood.
Loss of all or part of an arm or leg.
Bleeding in a victim who is now confused or unconscious.
Compress and Control
There are a number of methods that can be used to stop bleeding and they all have one thing in common—compressing a bleeding blood vessel in order to stop the bleeding.
If you don’t have a trauma first aid kit:
Apply direct pressure on the wound (Cover the wound with a clean cloth and apply pressure by pushing directly on it with both hands)
Take any clean cloth (for example, a shirt) and cover the wound.
If the wound is large and deep, try to “stuff” the cloth down into the wound.
Apply continuous pressure with both hands directly on top of the bleeding wound.
Push down as hard as you can.
Hold pressure to stop bleeding. Continue pressure until relieved by medical responders.
If you do have a trauma first aid kit:
For life-threatening bleeding from an arm or leg and a tourniquet is NOT available OR for bleeding from the neck, shoulder or groin:
Pack (stuff) the wound with a bleeding control (also called a hemostatic) gauze, plain gauze, or a clean cloth and then apply pressure with both hands
Open the clothing over the bleeding wound. (A)
Wipe away any pooled blood.
Pack (stuff) the wound with bleeding control gauze (preferred), plain gauze, or clean cloth. (B)
Apply steady pressure with both hands directly on top of the bleeding wound. (C)
Push down as hard as you can.
Hold pressure to stop bleeding. Continue pressure until relieved by medical responders.
For life-threatening bleeding from an arm or leg and a tourniquet is available:
Apply the tourniquet
Wrap the tourniquet around the bleeding arm or leg about 2 to 3 inches above the bleeding site (be sure NOT to place the tourniquet onto a joint—go above the joint if necessary).
Pull the free end of the tourniquet to make it as tight as possible and secure the free end. (A)
Twist or wind the windlass until bleeding stops. (B)
Secure the windlass to keep the tourniquet tight. (C)
Note the time the tourniquet was applied. (D)
Note: A tourniquet will cause pain but it is necessary to stop life-threatening bleeding.
How to Use a Tourniquet Video
Instructions and photos have been taken from the Save a Life booklet. Download the booklet for additional information on how to stop the bleed.
Pons PT, Jacobs L. Save a life: What everyone should know to stop bleeding after an injury. Chicago, IL: American College of Surgeons; 2016.
This video is from my favorite Doc, ZUBIN DAMANIA, MD.
UCSF/Stanford trained internal medicine physician and founder of Turntable Health, an innovative primary care clinic and model for Health 3.0 that was part of an ambitious urban revitalization movement in Las Vegas spearheaded by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. During a decade-long career as a hospitalist at Stanford, Doctor Damania led a shadow life performing stand-up comedy for medical audiences worldwide as a way to address his own burnout. His videos and live shows have since gone epidemically viral with nearly a half a billion views on Facebook and YouTube, educating patients and providers while mercilessly satirizing our dysfunctional healthcare system. The goal of the movement is to rapidly catalyze transformation by leveraging the awesome power of our passionate, engaged tribe of healthcare professionals. Join the ZPac and help us reclaim our calling!
Help build the most comprehensive registry of AEDs for use during emergencies.
The Pacific Northwest is one of those areas that is blessed with more trained responders than just about any other place in the country, only second to Rochester, Minnesota. We have thousands of trained CPR/AED responders in our neighborhoods and workplaces, and most, if not all, are ready, willing and able to render aid.
Surviving a cardiac event requires fast response, but often times that response comes too late. An event could be in progress next door, across the hall at work, or in the grocery store and as a trained responder you wouldn’t know.
PulsePoint Respond is the app that alerts citizen responders who know CPR to local emergencies near them and also to the location of the nearest AED.
When a cardiac emergency strikes, finding an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) can help save a life. But that takes knowing where AEDs are located. PulsePoint AED lets you report and update AED locations so that emergency responders, such as nearby citizens trained in CPR and off-duty professionals such as firefighters, police officers and nurses, can find an AED close to them when a cardiac emergency occurs.
You and PulsePoint AED can help strengthen the chain of survival for cardiac arrest victims. Download PulsePoint AED for free and use it to report AED locations wherever you see one. Describe the location, snap a picture, and the information is stored for local authorities to verify. After that, the AED location data is made available to anyone using PulsePoint Respond (also available for free in the App Store). PulsePoint Respond is the app that alerts citizen responders who know CPR to local emergencies near them and also to the location of the nearest AED.
The AEDs that you locate and report using PulsePoint AED are also made available to local dispatchers in the emergency communication center, allowing them to direct callers to the nearby life-saving devices.
PulsePoint AED also logs the identity (Facebook or Twitter account) of users adding devices to ensure accountability and to facilitate AED contest scoring.
There’s power in your community—bystanders ready to help save more lives from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). But how can you seize that potential and activate your citizens to change patient outcomes? The answer is PulsePoint.
PulsePoint is not in service with any Pacific Northwest Agency at this time
The PulsePoint Respond app
PulsePoint Respond is an enterprise-class, software-as-a-service (SaaS) pre-arrival solution designed to support public safety agencies working to improve cardiac arrest survival rates through improved bystander performance and active citizenship. Where adopted, PulsePoint Respond empowers everyday citizens to provide life‐saving assistance to victims of sudden cardiac arrest. Application users who have indicated they are trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and willing to assist in case of an emergency can now be notified if someone nearby is having a cardiac emergency and may require CPR. If the cardiac emergency is in a public place, the location-aware application will alert trained citizens in the vicinity of the need for bystander CPR simultaneous with the dispatch of advanced medical care. The application also directs these citizen rescuers to the exact location of the closest publicly accessible Automated External Defibrillator (AED).
How it can help
SCA can happen to anyone, at any time, but PulsePoint Respond empowers CPR-trained citizens to help improve patient outcomes and save lives by reducing collapse-to-CPR and collapse-to-deﬁbrillation times. And when citizens are more aware of and engaged with the health of their community, they become better partners with your team—and a critical part of your response efforts.
How do I deploy the app in my community?
The first step is to build consensus for the app in your community. Determine who should be involved in such a decision and assemble them to discuss the matter and ask questions. Typical attendance might include representatives from Fire, EMS, Communications, Information Technology, Public Information/Outreach, Leadership/Elected Officials, Labor, and affiliated non-governmental organizations such as the local heart association chapter, hospital board/foundation, etc., in addition to interested members of the community. You should also contact your Computer-aided Dispatch vendor at this point to begin discussing the interface requirements and any associated costs. If the vendor has already installed the interface in other accounts this should be a straightforward request. If they haven’t, contact our implementation partner, Physio-Control, and they will provide assistance in getting them the support they need to get up and running on the service.
The application also requires data on all publicly accessible AEDs in your jurisdiction. If this information is dated or incomplete, now is the time to consider fully re-validating these records. PulsePoint provides a powerful, easy-to-use visual registry to accurately place each AED at its precise location.
Once your organization has made the decision to move forward, contact Physio-Control for complete assistance along the path to a successful implementation.
Thinking about getting a First Aid Kit for your Boat or RV? Good!
Having a top quality First Aid for your boat or RV is very important, and a piece of safety gear that many people over look.
Through our First Aid, CPR and AED training programs we see all kinds of first aid kits in the field; some good, and some really, really bad. Take for instance one kit we found on a contractors truck that had one used bloody 4×4 gauze pad, or another that was so old that all the the products contained in the kit had expired in 2000. We rarely see top quality First Aid or Trauma Kits on Boats or in RVs, most of the kits we see are $9.99 specials from the hardware store.
…When we boat or camp often the idea to to get away from it all comes with a certain acceptable risk…
” The worst time to plan for an emergency is in the middle of one!”
You could find yourself outside of timely advanced emergency medical care. There are no EMTs in the middle of the Puget Sound, or in the remote wilderness so being prepared to care for the sick and injured is a top priority until help can arrive.
Getting a First Aid Kit for your Boat or RV that is stocked with the essentials is the easy part.
The best First Aid Kit in the world will not be of much use without knowing how to use the kit effectively. It’s one thing to treat scrapes and little cuts, but quite another when talking about more serious soft tissue injuries, broken bones and other major first aid situations. We highly recommend that you and your recreational family and friends attend a Red Cross Adult First Aid, CPR and AED class.
What class is right for you and what kit do you need?
It really depends on where you go, and access to EMS services. If you are the adventurous type spring for the First Responder Kit, day camping then a basic kit will suffice.
Boaters have very unique response needs in that even if you can see the shore response will be at least 30 minutes, unless you are very near a dock facility with fast response time by EMS. Regardless, a person suffering a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) will need treatment within 10 minutes, or the survival rate drops to almost zero. The only effective treatment of SCA is the deployment and use of an AED (Automated External Defibrillator), like the Heartsine or ZOLL AED Plus® maritime packages offered by Northwest Response.
Putting it all together
Having the right equipment is the start, its like buying a new GPS, or Charts for your boat, if you don’t take the time to learn how to use them, they aren’t much use when response time is critical; to quote Capt. Tom Bliss….“The worst time to plan for an emergency is in the middle of one!” And failure to plan is planning to fail.
Every minute that passes for a person suffering from a Sudden Cardiac Arrest will loose another 10% chance of survival without proper CPR and AED deployment. The skills required to administer life saving techniques can be acquired in as little as 2-hours, or a full Adult/Pediatric First Aid, CPR & AED class is only an investment of 6 hours and could turn out to be the best investment of time you will ever spend when it is you responding in a life threatening medical emergency, such as Heart Attack or Sudden Cardiac Arrest.
Northwest Response is a Proud Provider of American Red Cross First Aid Training and distributor of top quality First Aid Kits, ZOLL AEDs ,Heartsine (Automated External Defibrillators). When you are shopping for first aid kits, or considering taking a first aid class, be sure to check with us first! We may be holding a Boating or Camping First Aid Class near you, and will be happy to help you choose the First Aid Kit that is right for your lifestyle.
If you would like to take an individual First Aid Class, or you want to involve your entire Boating and Camping group, please call or email Northwest Response to set up a class.
We know, we know… we’ll have more cold days, and more recorded rain for Winter as usual, but the thing is….
Can You Spot Heat Stroke?
Let’s face it – in this Washington weather, when the sun comes out we go running for it. It’s our big glowing invitation to get out and explore the trails, parks and lakes our beautiful state has to offer. Of course we remember to lather up in sunscreen to protect that Northwestern skin, but is there something we’re forgetting?
Just like our largest external organ – our skin – our internal organs need to be protected from the sun too. When our bodies aren’t properly hydrated, our internal temperature control system fails to function properly. Heat Stroke is the result of a combination of prolonged exposure to heat and dehydration, both things we Washingtonians are quite unfamiliar with. As we are out enjoying the warm day that comes all too rarely, it is easy to forget to stay hydrated.
Heat Stroke Looks Like This
There are is a mild progression of other heat-related illnesses to look out for leading up to experiencing a heat stroke:
Muscle weakness or cramping
Lack of sweating despite heat
Hot, dry skin
The best thing to do for someone experiencing heat stroke is call 911. This illness can be extremely dangerous and sometimes fatal. While waiting for emergency medical services to arrive, try to cool down the individual. You can do this in several different ways depending on the supplies you have available. If ice packs are handy, try placing them on the person’s neck, armpits, groin or back. These places have blood vessels close to the skin and will help speed up the cooling process. Other ways to cool down a heat stroke victim include fanning them, patting their skin with wet cloths, or spraying or immersing them in cool water.
While most heat stroke victims are 50 years or older, knowing the signs and symptoms can be helpful at any age. During your outdoor Summer activities, remember to be aware of what is going on around you and keep an eye out for medical emergencies like these.
Try some of these helpful tips when it comes to staying cool: