Prepper Tip: How to Treat Hypothermia

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Blizzard, winter weather, snow banks

Whether you’re out and about during a camping trip or bugging out during a disaster, it’s important to be able to keep yourself healthy even during the warmest or coldest of days. Even though we’re in the middle of the dog days of summer as of this writing, we’re all about prepping for the future, and winter isn’t too far off. With the winter weather comes the cold season, including Hypothermia.

Signs and Symptoms of Hypothermia

These usually develop slowly. People with hypothermia typically experience gradual loss of mental acuity and physical ability, so they may be unaware that they need emergency medical treatment in the first place. After awhile, though, they’ll start to experience symptoms such as shivering, slurred speech, loss of coordination, fatigue, lethargy or apathy, confusion or memory loss, abnormally slow breathing, they’ll start to feel cold, their skin will pale, or they’ll turn bright red. Hyperventilation — difficulty breathing or shallow or muffled breathing — is also a sign.

In infants, hypothermia is more difficult to spot. If their skin feels cold, this is a sign of hypothermia. A loss of appetite or unusually quiet demeanor is also a sign.

Treating Hypothermia

The most obvious way to prevent or treat hypothermia is to move the person out of the cold, preferably indoors. If you can’t go indoors, it’s important to keep the person protected from the wind by covering the head. You’ll need something to keep the person from being in direct contact with the cold ground as well.

Whether the patient is indoors or outdoors, wet clothing is a problem. Replace wet clothes with clothes or coverings that are warm and dry.

What NOT to Do to Cure Hypothermia

It’s important that you do not apply direct heat to the patient’s skin. You should also avoid the use of hot water, heating lamps, or heating pads. Use warm compresses to the head, neck, chest, and groin. Let the arms and legs take care of themselves; do not attempt to warm them or cold blood will end up rushing back toward the heart, causing the core body temperature to drop and the patient could die. Avoid massaging or rubbing the patient; frostbitten skin can be damaged by doing so.

Also, despite common misconceptions to the contrary, do not give the patient any alcohol to stay warm. Alcohol will lower the body’s core temperature. Only non-alcoholic drinks should be given to the patient. Caffeine-free herbal tea or hot water with lemon and honey are good options. Sugar in the beverage can help to boost the patient’s energy.

For foods, you can offer high-energy foods like chocolate.

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