Quick Exit

Hypothermia Recognition and Prevention

NHS Hypothermia Oct 2022 front cover
Click on poster for larger version

The Frimley Integrated Care Board (ICB) have put together some guidance regarding hypothermia which is a serious medical condition in which a person's body temperature falls below the usual level (<35ºC) as a result of being in severe cold for a long time.

In the Care Quality Commission (CQC) 'Learning from Safety Incidents' Issue 8: Hypothermia they state:

Hypothermia can develop in vulnerable people after a relatively short exposure to cold weather. It can even develop after a small drop in room temperature. Many people who use Health and Social Care services may be at risk of developing hypothermia.

They include:

  • Older people in Care Homes or receiving care at home
  • People with reduced mental capacity, reduced mobility or a sensory impairment
  • People who cannot communicate that they are exposed to cold

Signs and Symptoms

  • Shivering
  • Pale skin, blue lips
  • Slurred speech or mumbling
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Weak pulse
  • Clumsiness or lack of co-ordination
  • Drowsiness or very low energy
  • Confusion or memory loss
  • Loss of consciousness

Immediate treatment

  • Do call 999 ambulance
  • Do remove any wet clothing or pads
  • Do warm patient up slowly with blankets and a hat
  • Do give warm drink or soup
  • Do give a high calorie snack, like chocolate
  • Do keep the patient awake and talking until help arrives
  • Don’t rewarm the patient too quickly, such as with a heater or hot bath
  • Don’t attempt to warm the arms and legs – heating and massaging the limbs can stress the heart and lungs
  • Don’t give the patient alcohol or a cigarette

The guidance also includes safeguarding considerations and tips for safety and prevention.