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Cold Enough for You?

Cold Related Illness and Injuries



When your body loses heat faster than it can produce it, a situation may occur where all of your body's energy is used up trying to produce heat.The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. 

Victims of hypothermia are most often elderly people with inadequate food, clothing, or heating; babies sleeping in cold bedrooms; and people who remain outdoors for long periods -- the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc. 

Each person is affected differently by the cold. Wet and cold can bring hypothermia on rapidly, or long exposure to the cold, rain, and wind can bring the symptoms of hypothermia on slowly.

Mild hypothermia occurs when the core body temperature is between 98.6 and 96F. The core temperature for moderate hypothermia is 95 to 93F.  If your core temperature reaches 92 or below, you are in a life-threatening situation. This condition will affect your heart rate, blood flow, and ability to think clearly. Immediate attention is necessary. 

Signs and Symptoms of hypothermia:

In Adults


         confusion/memory loss


         slurred speech

In Infants

         bright red, cold skin

         very low energy

If you believe you or someone else is suffering from hypothermia, it is imperative to get to a warm room or shelter and call for help. While you wait for help to arrive, remove any wet clothing and warm the center of the victim's body first. An electric blanket works well if one is available. Skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels, or sheets may also be effective. Drinking warm beverages -- NOT ALCOHOL -- will also help increase the body temperature. Once the body temperature has increased, keep the victim dry and wrapped in a warm blanket including the head and neck until help arrives.

If the victim is suffering from severe hypothermia, he or she may be unconscious and may not seem to have a pulse or appear to be breathing. In this case, you need to handle the victim gently, and get emergency assistance immediately.







Frostbite is an injury to the skin and sometimes the deeper tissues of the body due to freezing or formation of ice crystals in the tissue cells. Frostbite usually develops when the air temperature is below -12C  (10F), but may occur at a temperature nearer the freezing point (0C/32F) when other elements, such as high winds, dampness, or general chilling of the body, are present. Hands, feet, noses, and ears are the most likely body parts to be affected. Most often, the condition may be painful, but is not usually serious. However, severe untreated frostbite may result in gangrene.

You can avoid frostbite by staying out of the extreme cold. If you do have to go out, wear clothing to protect your face, nose, ears, fingers, and toes. Also, wiggling your fingers and toes frequently will help keep the blood flowing to these areas of your body. If you begin to loose feeling in your fingers and toes, or they begin to tingle, or feel painful, go inside and warm up.Signs and symptoms of frostbite include:

  • A "pins and needles" sensation, followed by numbness
  • Hard, pale, cold skin

How to treat frostbite:

If you suspect you have frostbite, it is important to get indoors or to a warm shelter as soon as possible. Take off any constricting jewelry or wet clothing. Immerse the affected area of your body in warm -- NOT HOT -- water, or apply warm cloths to affected areas of your ears, nose, or cheeks for 20-30 minutes. When your tissue has been thoroughly warmed, the skin will be soft and sensation will return. You should not use a heating pad, heat lamp, or the heat from a stove, fireplace, or radiator to warm yourself. Because you do not have any sensation in these areas of your body, they may burn easily and you would not feel it. Try to move the area of your body that is affected as little as possible. This helps decrease the damage to the affected area.

For further information, contact:

Emergicare Medical Training