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Top tips to identify and deal with hypothermia

Ensuring you're properly prepared is important at any time of year, but in winter it is essential to ensure a walk in the snow doesn't lead to a miserable day or even a life threatening situation. Here's Womenclimb's top tips to identifying hypothermia as you head out this winter, and how to deal with it should the unfortunate happen.

How can you identify if someone is Hypothermic?

Hypothermia is when the core temperature of your body falls from its regular 37 degrees to below 35 degrees and while it can be mild - causing shivering and tiredness - if not treated it will eventually lead to confusion, clumsiness, and eventually loss of consciousness.

Mild Hypothermia

If someone is starting to get Hypothermic, as well as shivering, the 'umbles' will appear:hypothermia

  • Grumbles - They may complain or become argumentative
  • Fumbles - Hand and eye coordination may deteriorate
  • Mumbles - they may mutter or start to speak unclearly and slurring
  • Stumbles - they may trip without reason
  • Tumbles - They may fall over without obvious cause.

Moderate to Severe Hypothermia

As a person gets colder shivering will become more intense, and they can become irrational and start to make poor decisions such as removing clothing or continuing to walk despite being exhausted.

Eventually shivering stops as the body conserves energy, the heart rate and breathing rate drops and the person will become unconscious.

Treating Hypothermia

If you notice any of these symptoms in a friend ensure that you act immediately.

  • Prevent further heat loss by finding shelter, removing and replacing wet or damp clothing with warm and dry items
  • Give them warm sweet drinks and energy food, such as chocolate, sweets or energy gels.
  • Once they are rewarmed it is ok to continue but monitor they don't get cold again
  • If you're unable to warm them and you are concerned, then seek help to get them off the hill

If you need to call out mountain rescue, first make a note of all relevant details:

• Location (with a grid reference if possible)
• Name, gender and age of casualty
• Nature of injuries or emergency
• Number of people in the party
• Your mobile phone number.

Dial 999 or 112, then ask for ‘Police’ then ‘Mountain Rescue’.

Give all of your prepared details of the incident and STAY WHERE YOU ARE until contacted by the rescue team. If you have to make a further 999 call, follow this procedure in full again.

If you like this, you might also like:

What to Pack - Scottish Winter

Ten Tips for Winter Adventure

Top Tips for Navigation

Frostbite Prevention & Treatment

What you need in a first aid kit

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