Weekly First-aid Topic: What Should We Do with Hypothermia?
From:Beijing Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning


Recently, Beijing experienced the coldest period of this winter. If someone is exposed to such a low temperature for a long time without proper insulation, he or she may develop hypothermia. Hypothermia means that when the body is exposed in the environment with low temperature, its rate of heat loss is faster than its heat emission, resulting in organ dysfunction or even life-threatening hypothermia. Hypothermia usually occurs when body temperature is below 35 °C. What should we do with hypothermia?

It is recommended to call 120 immediately. But what should we do before emergency personnel’s arrival? 1. Move the patient to a warm place. If the patient cannot be moved to a warm place, it is advised to try to prevent the patient from the cold wind and other cold factors with gentle action. 2. To help the patient to keep warm, it is advised to gently take off the patient’s wet clothes and try to cover him or her with blankets or clothes. Please cover the patient’s head to keep him or her warm. Only exposing the patient’s face to the air can be fine. 3. It is suggested to monitor the breathing of the patient. Severe hypothermia patients may get sudden cardiac arrest or respiratory arrest. If it is found that the patient’s breathing is weak or about to stop, cardiopulmonary resuscitation should be done for rescue. 4. Have some hot drinks. If the patient is awake, you can give him or her some warm water to drink. Notice that liquor or coffee cannot be provided. 5. Use hot water bottle to heat up. But please notice that hot water bag can only be applied on the neck, chest or abdomen. It is not advised to heat up arms and legs with it or it will return the low-temperature blood to the heart and brain, making the body's core temperature drop. It can be even fatal. 6. Do not use hot water bag with high temperature. Using water or hot water bag that are too hot may burn the skin or even lead to cardiac arrest.