Hypothermia is a state during which the body’s temperature drops because the body loses heat faster than it produces it. There are two stages of hypothermia - mild and severe.
All victims of severe hypothermia must be hospitalized immediately. While waiting for emergency assistance, take care of the victim: cover him/her with thick blankets and carefully carry the person to a place protected from the cold. Warming the victim must happen gradually (dry clothes, additional sources of heat in the room…); however, in this particular case, do not rub the body’s extremities, expose the victim to a direct source of heat, or administer hot drinks that will cause the body’s internal temperature to rise too quickly and could be very dangerous for someone who appears to have lost consciousness. As always, it is absolutely critical to call the Fire Department or the Ambulance Services immediately.
Frostbite affects the body’s extremities (feet and hands), ears, nose and cheeks. Frostbite can be extremely serious and lead to amputation of those affected body parts or cause serious after-effects. A gradual loss of feeling, numbness or dullness, a pale colour or a turning blue of the affected areas are all warning signs. In this case, slowly and continually heat the affected areas, as well as the rest of the body, but avoid significant differences in temperature. For example, do not put a frozen extremity in very hot water or expose it to a flame. And never rub, tap or hit the frostbitten areas.
Feeling cold is not only about temperature: One can quickly feel cold if one is wearing wet clothing, and is also tired, hungry and exposed to the wind. Here is some practical advice to help you avoid these situations:
Beware of air-conditioning!
Although one often associates the tropics with heat, beware of ventilators and air-conditioners. Abrupt changes in temperature when moving from outside to inside can provoke certain ear-nose-throat problems such as colds, the flu, etc. Don’t hesitate to turn the air-conditioner off at night or to keep an extra blanket nearby in case it gets chilly.
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