Hypothermia (continued)

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Treating Hypothermia Victims

Handle hypothermia victims gently, avoiding jolts that could damage the heart.

  • Get the victim out of the water to a dry, sheltered place.

  • Remove wet clothing only if dry clothing is available or if the environment is warm.

  • Prevent further heat loss by covering the head and neck. Wrap the victim in blankets.

  • Do not rub the surface of the body.  

  • Use Rescue Breathing if the casualty's breathing has stopped.

  • Do not lift the casualty by arms or legs. Elevating the limbs could cause a heart attack.

  • Apply heat (40 degrees Celsius) slowly and gently to increase the victim's body temperature. Use things like warm towels, water bottles, or hand warmers applied to the head, neck and trunk. Be careful to avoid burns.  

  • In severe cases, rescuers could remove their upper clothing and huddle with the victim in blankets or a sleeping bag.

  • Give warm drinks such as coffee, tea or cocoa - not alcohol - only if the victim is conscious and alert.

  • The condition is critical if the victim is getting stiff, is unconscious, or is showing signs of clouded consciousness such as slurred speech - even though the victim may not be shivering. Get medical assistance immediately.  

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