Hypothermia, defined as a body temperature of less than or equal to 95 degrees F, kills more than 700 Americans every year. Hypothermia is considered a medical emergency. While hypothermia is usually associated with extreme cold temperatures, recent reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that cases do occur in milder climates.
Signs and symptoms of hypothermia include:
Shivering, Numbness, Fatigue, Poor Coordination, Slurred Speech, Impaired Mental State, Blueness or Puffiness of the Skin and Difficulty Concentrating.
In infants, signs and symptoms may include bright red, cold skin and may become lethargic. In addition to older age, pre-existing disease, and poor nutritional status, the risk for death from hypothermia is also related to alcohol and drug use. Alcohol use, and exposure to some other toxins, such as carbon monoxide, can place an individual at greater risk for hypothermia by impairing his or her ability to perceive cold temperatures. Children are also at greater risk for hypothermia because they lose heat from their skin more rapidly than adults.
Early recognition of the signs and symptoms of hypothermia, as well as understanding the effects of your medicines on your body's temperature control can go a long way in preventing hypothermia. Taking preventive action is the best defense against cold-weather conditions!
In addition, NJPIES offers these tips to the general public:
Stay warm and dress appropriately! For prolonged exposure to cold, wear insulated or layered clothing that does not retain moisture; Wear a hat!; Avoid over-exertion and excessive sweating in the cold; Warm beverages can help increase the body temperature, but do not give beverages to an unconscious person; Exercise caution when drinking alcohol, especially in cold temperatures.
Help is just a phone call away! For more information on prevention and treatment call 1-800-POISON-1. The Poison Center Hotline is accessible 24 hours per day, every day! Roberta Swenson, MPH
N.J. Poison Information and
Education System, Newark