First aid measures may prevent further heat loss and help the body
slowly warm up.
Remain calm. Fear or too much activity causes
sweating. Sweating can make you feel chilled.
Find shelter so you
can get out of the cold, the wind, or the water.
Remove cold, wet
Put on dry clothing, especially wool clothing
or a synthetic fabric that insulates well, such as polypropylene. Cover your
If dry clothing is not immediately available, you can try to
get warm by making skin-to-skin contact. After removing wet clothes, wrap a
blanket or sleeping bag around you and another person and allow body heat to
Warm up under a heated blanket, if available.
Move around, but don't be so active that you sweat.
Whirl your arms around like a windmill to get your blood moving and warm you
up. Activity makes body heat and improves blood flow. Sweating should be
avoided because it cools the body.
Drink warm fluids that do not
contain caffeine or alcohol. Eat high-energy foods, such as candy. Do not give
food or drink to a person who is acting confused or responding
Try to avoid putting your whole body in warm water. As a
last resort, use a warm-water bath [100.4°F (38°C) to
105°F (41°C)] to rewarm if help
is not available and other home treatments are not working to warm you up.
Small body parts, such as a hand or foot, can be rewarmed by putting them in
warm water. Do not put anyone who is not fully awake and alert into a warm
Do not use
Be aware that if you (or the person) sit in front of a
heater or a fire to warm up, there is a greater chance of getting burned. This
is because normal feeling is lost in cold-injured skin, and you may not know
when to move away from the heater or fire.
If small areas of your body (ears, face, nose, fingers, or toes) are
really cold or frozen, try these first aid measures to warm the areas.
Avoid activities that can further damage
Do not rub or massage frozen skin.
Do not rewarm frozen skin if refreezing is possible. Wait until you reach shelter. The injury will be
worse if your skin freezes, thaws, and then refreezes.
Do not walk on frozen feet if possible. However, it is better to walk on
frozen feet than to thaw your feet if there is a chance they will
Do not put snow on the area or pack snow around the
Warm small areas of the body by:
Blowing warm air onto cold
Tucking hands or feet inside warm clothing next to bare
skin. Place chilled fingers in an armpit.
Cupping cold ears with
Putting cold hands, feet, or ears in warm water
[104°F (40°C) to
108°F (42°C)] for 15 to 30
minutes. Do not use water above
108°F (42°C). Warm towels can
be used to warm the genital area but be careful not to burn the skin.
Using a hot
water bottle covered with a cloth or a heating pad on a low setting. Be careful
not to burn your skin.
Protect the cold or frozen body part from further
cold exposure and bruising. Pad frozen fingers or toes.
Gently wrap fingers or toes in soft, dry material, such as cotton or
Primary Medical Reviewer
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.