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Hypothermia in Children: Care Instructions


Hypothermia means that the body loses heat faster than it can make heat. It can happen when your child is exposed to cold air, water, wind, or rain.

Most healthy people with mild to moderate hypothermia recover fully and don't have lasting problems. Babies may be more at risk for hypothermia. This is because their bodies do not control temperature as well. Follow your doctor's advice for helping your child recover. And learn how to prevent hypothermia in the future.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Be safe with medicines. Give your child medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think your child is having a problem with the medicine.
  • To prevent dehydration, have your child drink plenty of fluids. If your child has to limit fluids because of a health problem, talk with your doctor before you increase how much your child drinks.
  • Make sure your child gets plenty of rest at home. Keep your child warm.

To prevent hypothermia

  • Cover your child's head, hands, and feet whenever your child might be in cold or wet weather.
  • Keep your child as dry as you can.
  • Have your child wear layers of loose clothing.
  • Pack a car kit with items you and your child will need to stay warm. It may include fire-starting kits, a lighter, and extra clothing. You also may want to include drinking water and food. You can bring a sleeping bag too. You and your child can warm up more easily by sharing the bag.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child is confused or having trouble thinking.
  • Your child is shivering and can't stop.
  • Your child shows signs of needing more fluids, such as sunken eyes and a dry mouth with little or no spit, and little or no urine for 6 hours.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.