Hypothermia

Hypothermia is a medical emergency that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature. It is a dangerous condition which can be fatal. Shivering, drowsiness and slow pulse are signs of hypothermia. It is common in elderly people living in poorly heated homes and in babies kept in cold rooms at night. Hypothermia also affects people exposed to extensive cold and damp, e.g. sailors, skiers and hikers (hiking tends to increase during spring in South Africa). 

 

Treatment
If the body’s temperature drops to 30°C there is severe danger of the person dying. While waiting for medical attention wrap the patient’s head and body in blankets or the like. Avoid direct heating from items like hot water bottles, as direct heat can be dangerous. If the patient is conscious and able to swallow, then offer hot soup or a warm sweet drink.

 

Some people might have the misunderstanding that alcohol may be served as an emergency measure in such circumstances. Alcohol actually draws blood away from vital organs towards the skin. It thus dilates the capillaries, and causes more heat to be lost.  


Prevention

  • Have warm drinks throughout the day.
  • Have at least one hot meal a day.
  • Wear warm clothing. Several thin layers can trap heat more effectively than one thick layer.
  • Cover the head. Babies especially lose heat through the head.
  • Keep active. Do not sit in one position for long.
  • Keep at least one room at 21°C, where you live most of the time. Check for draughts and block gaps.
  • Keep a flask of warm drink by your bedside during cold nights.
  • Take weatherproof clothing with you when travelling. Carry high-carbohydrate snacks with you in case of emergency.
  • Ensure that your tent is strong, weatherproof and windproof when camping. Take a gas stove with extra gas, and a reliable fire starter.

Duʿā

Worldly conditions are a reminder to the believer of the next world. As such, Allah’s Messenger [salutations and peace be upon him] advised us to recite:


لا اله الا الله ما أشدّ برد هذا اليوم , اللهمّ أجرني من زمهرير جهنّم

 

Lā ilāha illallāhu mā ashadda barda hāẓhal yawm, Allāhumma ajirnī min zamharīri Jahannam. (There is no god besides Allah, how severe is the cold of today! O Allah, save me from Zahaharīr of Hell.)


Allāḥ then says to Hell, “Indeed, a slave of Mine has sought refuge in Me from you. Bear witness that I have granted him salvation from you.” The Companions asked, “What is Zamharīr?” Allah’s Messenger [salutations and peace be upon him] replied, “‘A cold area in Hell in which a non-believer will be placed, and his body parts will break off.” [Ibn ʾas-Sunnī, Abū Nuʿaym and al-Bayhaqī]