Cold-Related Injuries #8 – Treatment of Hypothermia


98.6F – Normal
97F – Brain fails; judgment fails; protective and survival instincts fade.
96F – Shivering begins as a constant (uncontrollable) fine motor tremor.
94F – Shivering increases, coordination fails, tripping and falling begin.
92F – Shivering becomes intense; patient is unable to walk.
90F – Shivering becomes convulsive, fetal position is adopted; patient is unable to talk.
86F & below – “Metabolic Icebox”:  unconscious, ashen gray, may appear pulseless/breathless.


Remove from immediate danger and further exposure.
GET DRY & KEEP DRY. Insulate with hypothermia wrap.
Give warm, sweet liquids – Jell-O if conscious.

Click on the image below to see a hypothermia wrap.


The Hypothermia Wrap – “The Human Burrito”

Remove wet or damp clothing.
Insulate with multiple layers of dry material, clothing, blankets, sleeping bags.
Cover and insulate their head with a warm hat.
Super-insulate their feet and add chemical heat packs if you have them.
Insulate from the ground with ensolate pads.
Surround with a windproof & waterproof layer.


Know your enemy: 
Be prepared for wet, wind, and cold.
Wear fabrics that stay warm when wet (NO COTTON!).
Stay dry. Stay well HYDRATED.
Snack often on quick-burning carbohydrates – sugar.
Carry bivouac gear and know how to use it.
Be attentive to yourself, to your companions, and to the environment.
Do not tolerate the cold or cold extremities.
React early & quickly.

For more detailed information on Hypothermia see the Jan/Feb 2004 issue, When Jack Frost Bites, and the Nov/Dec 2004 issue, Frozen Mythbusters, of the Wilderness Medicine Newsletter. Click on this link to learn more about or subscribe to the Wilderness Medicine Newsletter.

This blog is powered by the Wilderness Medicine Newsletter, now celebrating 20 years of publication. The WMN is published and distributed online six times each year by TMC Books, and subscriptions cost as little as $10 per year. To find out more, or to subscribe online, click here.


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