You have successfully rescued your partner but she is not safe yet.
Buried in snow, her body has lost a lot of heat, and if not able to produce adequate body heat, she might suffer from hypothermia.
Hypothermia is a condition that occurs when one’s body temperature drops below 95° F. Major complications could result from this drop in temperature, including death. Hypothermia is particularly dangerous because it affects victim’s ability to think clearly that decrease her likelihood of seeking medical help.
The most common symptoms of hypothermia include:
- Excessive shivering
- Slowed breathing
- Slurred speech
- Fumbling hands
- Memory loss
- Someone with excessive fatigue, weak pulse, or who is unconscious may also be hypothermic.
Remember that your goal is to increase your partner’s body temperature to a normal range.
You can help her stabilise till medical help arrives by resorting to the following:
- Handle your partner with care.
- Don’t massage her in an attempt to restore blood flow.
- Any forceful, or excessive movements might cause cardiac arrest.
- Move or shield her from the cold.
- Remove her wet clothing.
- If necessary, cut the clothes off to avoid moving her.
- Cover her with warm blankets, including her face, but not her mouth.
- If blankets are not available, use your body heat to warm her.
- If she is conscious, try to give her warm beverages, or soup, which could help in increasing the body temperature.
- Apply warm (not hot), and dry compresses, such as a warmed water bottle, or a warmed towel.
- Apply the compresses only to the chest, neck, or groin. Don’t apply compresses to the arms or legs, as this could push cold blood back toward the heart, lungs, and brain, which could be fatal.
- Do not use a heating pad, or heat lamp as high temperature could burn the skin, or cause cardiac arrest.
- Monitor her breathing.
- If the breathing seems dangerously slow, or if she loses consciousness, perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if you’re trained to do so.