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Protect yourself from hypothermia, frostbite

Scott Walquist

During the cold winter months, hypothermia and frostbite are always possible and need to be considered serious health threats, especially with senior citizens and small children.

In order to protect yourself and loved ones from these serious threats, it is important to understand them and know how to prevent them.

Care Flight would like to share the following information regarding hypothermia and frostbite and how to prevent this from occurring to you:

Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature dips below the optimal 98.6 degrees. Symptoms usually take effect in three stages. The first stage is mild hypothermia. It is characterized by bouts of shivering, grogginess and compromised thinking. The second stage is moderate hypothermia.

Symptoms include violent shivering or shivering with sudden stops, inability to think and pay attention, slow, shallow breathing, or slow, weak pulse. The severe level of hypothermia has set in when shivering stops. The patient may then lose consciousness. There is little or no breathing. Pulse is weak, irregular or non-existent.

When your outer body layer becomes cold, blood flow increases in an attempt to regulate your body heat.

When you inner body starts to become cooler than normal, shivering may begin.

Shivering generates heat through an increase in chemical reactions required for muscle activity. Visible shivering can maximally increase surface heat production by 500 percent. However, this is limited to a few hours because of depletion of muscle glucose and the onset of fatigue. Active exercise is much more efficient at heating than shivering.

Increasing or decreasing activity will cause corresponding increases in heat production and decreases in heat production.

Behavioral responses, such as putting on or taking off layers of clothing will also result in thermoregulation.

The elderly and small children are most at risk for hypothermia. However, people who already have something wrong with them are also at a higher risk, as they may not be aware of how severely they are exposing themselves to the cold.


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