Preventing Hypothermia as the Temperatures Plunge

As the temperatures continue to plunge, a Cleveland Clinic doctor warns about the risk for hypothermia.

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CLEVELAND – The snow is falling and the temperatures are continuing to drop, making the risk for hypothermia a very real concern.

“Hypothermia in a nutshell is a medical emergency when your body is losing heat faster than it can produce it,” explained Andrew Yocum, MD, emergency medicine physician with Cleveland Clinic. “That leads to dangerously low body temperatures at the extreme and can cause disfunction in all your organ systems and eventually lead to death if it’s severe enough.”

Dr. Yocum said hypothermia can occur when your body temperature falls below 95 degrees.

Symptoms may include chills, confusion and clumsiness.

In more severe cases, you could pass out or have heart issues.

So, what should you do if you get hypothermia?

Get indoors and take off wet clothing or boots.

A blanket or a warm washcloth is a good way to gently reheat your body.

Hypothermia can be prevented by dressing in layers, wearing a hat and appropriate footwear.

Dr. Yocum also recommends having some supplies in your car.

“Think about having a kit in your car. Nobody wants to crash their car; nobody wants to have a flat tire in the middle of nowhere. Having some hand warmers, gloves, blankets, poncho, those types of things in your vehicle just in case you’re going to get stuck in these situations,” he said.

Dr. Yocum said to be sure to check on groups with chronic conditions like the very young, the elderly, diabetics or those with high blood pressure, as they are more susceptible to hypothermia.

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