Now that we're in the colder months, it is important to protect yourself against the dangers of hypothermia when outside.

What You Need To Know

  • Hypothermia kills about 1000 to 1500 people per year

  • It is when your body temperature drops below 95 degrees

  • Older adults and babies are most susceptible to hypothermia

Hypothermia occurs when your body becomes exposed to very cold temperatures for a long time, and your body loses heat faster than produced. You eventually use all your body's stored energy, and your body temperature lowers.

Even though hypothermia usually happens in very cold temperatures, it can occur at cool temperatures (above 40 degrees) if a person is wet from rain or sweat.

The people most at risk, according to the CDC, include:

  • Older adults with inadequate food, clothing, or heating
  • Babies sleeping in cold bedrooms
  • People who remain outdoors for a long time (the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc.)
  • People who drink alcohol or use illicit drugs
Hikers can get hypothermia very easily when out in the cold for a long time. Courtesy: AP/Arno Balzarini

Signs and symptoms

There are many signs to look for, whether it be in an adult or an infant.

For adults, look for:

  • Shivering
  • Exhaustion
  • Confusion
  • Fumbling hands
  • Memory loss
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness

In babies, look for:

  • Bright red but cold skin
  • Low energy

It is hard to determine if hypothermia is happening if confusion sets in, and this could put you in a dangerous situation. This is why it's good to prepare before stepping foot outside.

Make sure to layer up, and if traveling, have a safety kit just in case.

Tea can help the recovery process from hypothermia. Courtesy: AP/Sara Moulton

Recovering from hypothermia

If you or a loved one is experiencing hypothermia, seek medical attention right away.

If getting medical attention is not an option, move to a warm room as soon as possible.

You'll also need to remove any wet clothing and warm up the center of the body. That includes the chest, neck, head, and groin area.

Warm drinks, such as tea or hot water, help increase body temperature, but remember, never drink anything with alcohol.

Even after the body temperature has increased, keep dry and warm, and seek medical help as soon as you're able to.