d. Shallow Respirations. The casualty's breathing may slow down and
become less forceful.
e. Pale or Gray Skin. The skin is pale or gray and cold due to inadequate
f. Numbness. As the blood circulation to the skin decreases, the skin becomes
numb. Numbness (loss of feeling) can be tested by gently pinching or pricking the
g. Mental Confusion. The decreased blood flow to the brain can produce signs
and symptoms of mental disorientation such as uncoordinated or slurred speech,
listlessness, withdrawing from association with fellow soldiers, a depressed or indifferent
attitude, and a "glassy" stare.
h. Fruity Odor. The casualty may have a sweet, fruity (acetone) odor on his
i. Slow Pupillary Reflex. Hypothermia will slow down the reactions of the
muscles in the iris of the eye. If a bright light is shined into the casualty's eye, the pupil
of the eye will shrink slower than normal. When generalized hypothermia is severe, the
pupils may not react at all.
j. Frostbite. In freezing weather, frostbite may develop on the casualty's limbs
and facial areas.
k. Cardiac Arrhythmia. Arrhythmia (irregular heart action) usually develops
when the body reaches a low temperature.
l. Clinical Death. Clinical death (no respiration or heartbeat) occurs in the final
stage of generalized hypothermia. A casualty found in this condition must be treated
aggressively and is not dead until he is "warm and dead."
5-12. TREAT GENERALIZED HYPOTHERMIA
Rewarm the casualty's body evenly and without delay, but not so rapidly as to
shock his circulatory system. If the casualty is rewarmed too rapidly, the shock can
cause cardiac arrhythmia or even cause the heart to stop beating altogether.
Rewarming procedures are given below.
a. Stop Heat Loss. Prevent the casualty from losing any more body heat by
moving him out of the wind and to a protected area (inside a building, if possible). If his
clothing is wet, remove the wet clothing and replace with dry clothes and/or cover the
casualty with blankets or a sleeping bag.