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Take the Chill out of your Body -- Fast

Summer's verdant days are fast receding and so is the daily temperature. If your mother told you never to leave the house without a hat in cold weather, you might want to heed her advice in the coming months.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature, affects the brain and makes victims unable to think clearly or move well. This makes the condition particularly dangerous because a person might not know he or she is suffering from it.

Hypothermia often strikes at very cold temperatures, but it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40 degrees) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat,or submersion in cold water.

Victims of hypothermia are often elderly people with inadequate food, clothing or heating, babies sleeping in cold bedrooms and to people who remain outdoors for long periods of time.

Warnings signs of hypothermia:

In adults:

• shivering, exhaustion

• confusion, fumbling hands

• memory loss, slurred speech

• drowsiness

In infants:

• bright red, cold skin

• extremely low energy

If you notice any of these signs, take the person's temperature. If it is below 95 degrees, the situation is an emergency and you should seek medical attention immediately.

If medical care is not available, begin warming the person, as follows:

• Get the victim into a warm room or shelter.

• If the victim has on any wet clothing, remove it.

• Warm the center of the body first -- chest, neck, head and groin -- using an electric blanket, if available. Or use skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels or sheets.

A person with severe hypothermia may be unconscious and may not seem to have a pulse or to be breathing. In this case, handle the victim gently, and get emergency assistance immediately.

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