How to treat hypothermia

If this is an emergency, please call 000 immediately.

What is hypothermia?

If hypothermia is severe, call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.

Hypothermia is a condition which is triggered when the body's warming abilities fail or are overwhelmed. This causes the body temperature to drop below 35°C, under the normal average of 37°C.

This guide is regularly updated and aligns with the current edition of Australian First Aid (4th edition, 7/2011)

Signs and Symptoms

Mild

      • Feeling cold
      • Shivering
      • Clumsiness and slurred speech
      • Apathy and irrational behaviour

Severe

      • Shivering ceases
      • Difficult to find pulse
      • Slow heart rate
      • Loss of consciousness

 

What to do

Follow DRSABCD.

 

 

Move the patient to a warm, dry place.

 

Help the patient to lie down in a comfortable position. Handle the patient as gently as possible, avoiding excess activity and movement.

Remove any wet clothing from the patient.

 

Place the patient between blankets or in a sleeping bag, and wrap them in an emergency blanket.

Cover the patient’s head to maintain body heat.

 

Give the patient warm drinks if they are conscious.

  • Do not give alcohol.

Place hot water bottles, heat packs and other sources of external heat directly on the patient’s neck, armpits and groin.

Be careful to avoid burns.

Body-to-body contact may be used if other means of rewarming are not available

If hypothermia is severe, call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.

 

Stay with the patient until medical aid arrives.

 

Resources

Hypothermia fact sheet

DRSABCD poster

Related advice

Frostbite

If you or someone else has suspected frostbite, it’s important not to rub or massage the frozen area, or apply radiant heat (such as fire). Learn more about how to treat frostbite here.

Shock

Any health condition or trauma can cause shock, and it is a life-threatening condition. It’s important to treat the injury or illness causing the shock, as well as the shock itself.

Asthma attack

Most people who experience asthma attacks should have an action plan and medication with them at all times. Here is a fact sheet of what to do if someone has an asthma attack.

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