First Aid For Hypothermia – The Essential Dos And Don’ts

Hypothermia is a medical condition that many of us associate with places where extreme cold weather conditions are the norm – such as mountain ranges or polar ice caps. While it’s true that the colder the environment you’re in, the greater your chance of suffering the effects of this life-threatening condition is, it can happen just about anywhere.

For example, with severe winters in recent years, the numbers of older people being hospitalized or worse, due to the effects of hypothermia has gone up. That’s because certain more population groups like the elderly or young babies are more susceptible to the cold if exposed over a long period of time. But we all need to be vigilant.

Whether it’s from prolonged exposed to cold temperatures (usually outdoors but sometimes indoors too), falling into cold open water (i.e. a lake, river or the sea) or being caught in sudden or extreme weather conditions (e.g. a blizzard or prolonged snowstorm), victims showing symptoms of hypothermia need treatment as soon as possible.

Recognising the symptoms

Hypothermia occurs when the human body temperature drops below 35 degrees centigrade (95 Fahrenheit). If the core body temperature drops below 30 degrees (86 Fahrenheit) then it indicates severe hypothermia. The symptoms to watch out for are:

Shivering, pale and cold dry skin

Confusion, disorientation or lethargy (extreme tiredness)

Loss of consciousness or falling in and out of consciousness

Slow or shallow breathing and weak pulse

If any of these symptoms are present you must take action. And here’s how.

Take the victim indoors or to any other warm dry place as soon as possible

If the victim is wet, remove their wet or damp clothing and dry them as carefully as possible with a towel or other dry material

Next, wrap the victim in any clothing, towels, blankets or other material you have available. The head and upper body are the biggest source of heat loss, so make covering these parts your priority.

Shivering is the body’s way of trying to keep warm, so try and get the victim to shiver if they aren’t already

You can even use your own body heat to try and warm the person up – hold your body as close to the victim as possible and hug them tightly.

If the victim can swallow (check first) you could give them a warm drink – but never ever alcohol (see below)

Common mistakes to avoid when treating hypothermia

Never give the victim alcohol – the old image of the St Bernard’s dog with brandy in a small barrel on its collar is one many of us associate with cold weather rescue. The fact is though, giving a hypothermia victim alcohol risks opening the blood vessels too quickly, causing a fall in blood pressure to the major organs of blood supply, which can cause cardiac arrest.

Never put the victim in a bath – for the same reasons indicated above, do not give the victim a hot bath. It can open up blood vessels too quickly and lead to cardiac arrest and death.

With immediate treatment, the effects of mild to moderate hypothermia can be easily reversed. Severe hypothermia will require emergency hospital treatment as soon as possible; but in any case of hypothermia it’s recommended to seek medical assistance.

Five Tips to Help You Sleep Better at Night

Despite its enormous importance to a person’s overall health, millions of Americans fail to get enough sleep on a nightly basis. Whether it’s work or family commitments that keeps you from getting at least seven or eight hours of sleep a night, settling for five or six can negatively affect your health, weight, memory, immune system, and even your sex life.

While it’s easy to say that a person needs to get more sleep at night, for many the time to sleep an extra few hours is a luxury they can’t afford. So if you can’t get more sleep at night, the least you can do is improve on the sleep you do get. Here are a number of tips designed to help maximize your sleep.

Resist Sleeping In

One of the most common ways people makeup for getting too little sleep during the week is by sleeping in on the weekends. While it might seem like waking up a few hours later on Saturday and Sunday should help you catch up on your sleep, it can actually make you feel more tired and disorientated. A recent study conducted at Harvard found that people who slept extra hours on the weekend to compensate for sleep deprivation were less able to focus than if they had stayed up the entire night. Once your body’s internal clock gets set to going to bed and rising at the same time every day, it’s healthier if you keep to that schedule.

Exercise

Obviously the more energy you expend, the more exhausted you become, and the easier it is to get to sleep at night. Regularly exercising can help you sleep better at night, especially if you exercise outside right around sunset. Studies have shown that exposure to late afternoon, early evening sunlight can help to regulate the body’s circadian rhythms. However, don’t get too geared up just before bedtime, and try to keep any evening exercise to yoga or light stretching if you need to unwind at night.

Pick Your Snacks Carefully

The right late night snack can help drift you away to dreamland. An oatmeal raisin cookie and a glass of milk, for example, can assist you with falling asleep because the snack contains complex carbohydrates that help to increase the level of tryptophan in body. Tryptophan is the same sleep inducing amino acid that’s the culprit behind most post-

Thanksgiving naps. However, eating the wrong foods can also keep you awake at night.  Delicious as it may be, chocolate does contain enough caffeine that it can make getting to sleep difficult for some people.

The Bedroom is For Sleep

If you’re someone who tosses and turns for awhile before finally drifting off, your inability to get relaxed could be a result of body conditioning. TVs, laptops, cell phones, books, and iPads have all become commonplace in the bedroom, a room which is ostensibly for sleep. When we check Facebook, pay bills, watch TV, or read while lying in bed, we are conditioning the body and brain to think of the bedroom as a place for activities other than sleep. By limiting the bedroom to sex and sleep, you condition the body to immediately feel relaxed once in bed, which can help reduce the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep.

Wind Down Before Bed

In order to get to sleep quickly, you need your mind to feel relaxed prior to lying down. Trying to plan tomorrow’s dinner, catching up on work email, or even reading an interesting book that leaves you wanting more can all cause you to become overly excited prior to going to bed. Feeling too amped up before bedtime can cause you toss and turn before finally falling asleep. To help yourself relax, turn off the TV, close the laptop, and try to find something to focus on that will help you unwind.