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Hypothermia - The Silent Killer:Treatment

Proper treatment of hypothermia depends on the severity of the case and the location in which it happens. Immediate evacuation to a warm, dry shelter is the best option in all cases. When hypothermia strikes in the back country, emergency measures must be taken immediately.

***All hypothermia victims must be treated gently.

***Rough handling, shaking or rubbing could cause cardiac arrest.

  • Mild Hypothermia

    • The victim should be encouraged to stay active. Wet clothes should be stripped off and replaced with warm, dry clothes. It is imperative that the person's head be covered. The victim should drink some warm (Not Hot), sugary fluids.

  • Moderate Hypothermia
    • The victim should be as sheltered as possible, preferably in a tent. Wet clothing should be removed and replaced with as much warm, dry clothing as possible.
    • All extremities should be completely covered. If the victim is able to swallow without danger, he/she should drink warm (Not Hot), sugary fluids. If possible,warm objects such as water bottles, should be placed next to the victim's groin, head, neck and chest. The victim should be evacuated to a hospital as soon as possible.

  • Severe Hypothermia
    • Patients in severe hypothermia are often mistaken for dead. Heartbeat, pulse and respiration may not be apparent. Severely hypothermic patients must be treated very gently. Cold clothing should be cut away and replaced with warm, dry clothing. No attempt should be made to re-warm the victim until he/she has been evacuated to a warm and dry shelter, preferably a medical facility.
    • CPR should be administered if possible.
    • Hope should not be lost; hypothermia is an amazing self-preservation technique of the human body. Severely hypothermic victims have been brought back to consciousness hours after losing all signs of life.
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