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Cold injury and illness

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You can be sweating and your patient can be dangerously cold.

Hypothermia Edit

Hypothermia occurs when the body is unable to maintain an adequate temperature because of excessive heat loss. This can happen when it’s not freezing cold outside; it most often happens in wet conditions or when people have burns.

Signs and symptoms Edit

Mental capacity deteriorates:

  • Poor decision making, cranky, uncooperative, apathetic, lethargic, slurred speech, glossy stare.

Muscular control deteriorates:

  • Uncontrollable shivering, loss of fine motor functions progresses to gross stumbling (looks like someone who is drunk), which progresses to stiffness and inability to move.

The signs and symptoms may have a gradual onset – and can be mistaken for fatigue, irritability or dehydration.

First aid treatment for hypothermia Edit

  • Remove person from the cold.
  • Prevent further heat loss by removing wet clothes and drying the person.
    • Pad under them and cover with blankets or dry clothing and a space blanket.
  • Actively rewarm with hot drinks or food – if the person is alert and oriented.
    • Also rewarm with hand warmers or hot packs to the chest, armpit, groin, or neck, or with other peoples’ bodies.
  • Do NOT allow the person to consume alcohol or stimulants (cigarettes, coffee, etc.)
  • Do not have person exercise to rewarm (they are already expending a lot of energy).

CALL 911 at onset of severe symptoms, and treat for shock. Lowered level of consciousness is SEVERE.

  • Do not jostle, patient’s heart is vulnerable.
  • Do not give a person with lowered level of consciousness anything by mouth.
  • Cover to prevent further heat loss, but don’t rewarm at this stage.

Frostnip Edit

Signs and symptoms Edit

Frostnip is like a superficial burn. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Reddened or lightened skin, whitening or ashy skin
  • Itching, tingling, numbness.

First aid treatment for frostnip Edit

Move the person to a warm place. Warm the area. Moderate heat is best.

  • Have them put their hands in their armpits, breathe onto area, warm the part in someone else’s hands or armpits.

Do NOT massage or rub affected area. Do NOT re-expose to cold.

FROSTBITE Edit

Frostbite develops if frostnip goes untreated. It is a serious condition comparable to partial thickness or full thickness burns. The underlying tissue has been affected and can become frozen.

Signs and symptoms Edit

  • White/waxy skin, blotchy skin, grayish/yellow skin, blue skin
  • Swelling/blistering.
  • Firm or frozen to the touch

First aid treatment for frostbite Edit

CALL 911. Move the person to a warm place. Protect the area by covering and handling only gently. Do NOT allow the person to consume alcohol or stimulants (cigarettes, coffee, etc.) Do not risk any warming if there is a chance of the body part refreezing.

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