Any victim pulled from cold water should be treated for hypothermia. Symptoms may include intense shivering, loss of coordination, mental confusion, cold and blue (cyanotic) skin, weak pulse, irregular heartbeat, and enlarged pupils. Once shivering stops, core body temperature begins to drop critically. Try to prevent body cooling and get the victim to a medical facility immediately.
- Gently move the victim to a warm shelter.
- Check for breathing and a heartbeat. Start CPR if necessary.
- If you have dry clothes or a blanket, remove the victim’s wet clothes. Use a minimum of body movement, since rough handling can cause cardiac arrest. Cut the clothes off, if necessary.
- Lay the victim in a level face-up position with a blanket or some other insulation underneath.
- Wrap the victim in a dry blanket or dry clothes. If possible, warm the clothes first. If a stocking cap is available, put it on the victim’s head since a great deal of heat is lost from the head.
- If the person is awake and coherent, give them warm (not hot) liquids. Warm hot tea with sugar or honey or slightly-cooled hot chocolate are good since sugars can still be absorbed even if the stomach has shut down.
- Never give a hypothermic person alcohol. Alcohol dilates (opens) your veins, which will make you lose body heat more rapidly.