Hypothermia

Hypothermia is a dangerous drop in body temperature below 35C (normal body temperature is around 37C). It's a medical emergency that needs to be treated in hospital.


Go to A&E or call 999 if

you think someone has hypothermia and they have any of these:

  • shivering
  • pale, cold and dry skin – their skin and lips may be blue
  • slurred speech
  • slow breathing
  • tiredness or confusion

A baby with hypothermia may be:

  • cold to touch and their skin may be red
  • floppy
  • unusually quiet and sleepy and may refuse to feed

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Do

  • move the person indoors or somewhere sheltered as quickly as possible

  • remove any wet clothing, wrap them in a blanket, sleeping bag or dry towel, making sure their head is covered

  • give them a warm non-alcoholic drink and some sugary food like chocolate if they're fully awake

  • keep them awake by talking to them until help arrives

  • make sure you or someone else stays with them

Don't

  • do not use a hot bath, hot water bottle or heat lamp to warm them up

  • do not rub their arms, legs, feet or hands

  • do not give them alcohol to drink

These will not help and could make things worse.

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Your heart rate will be monitored and you may be given oxygen to help you breathe.

You may also be given warm fluids straight into a vein to help your body warm up.

Treatment in intensive care may be needed if you have severe hypothermia.

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Hypothermia happens when you get too cold and your body temperature drops below 35C.

You can get hypothermia if you:

  • do not wear enough clothes in cold weather
  • stay out in the cold too long
  • fall into cold water
  • have wet clothes and get cold
  • live in a cold house – older people living alone are particularly at risk

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