What is the first aid treatment for hypothermia?

Call for medical help, and then follow these steps to help treat hypothermia:
  • Move the person into a warm location.
  • Remove any wet clothing from the person.
  • Use an electric blanket, if available, to warm the person's body. Warm the center of the body first - the chest, neck, head and groin. 
  • If you don't have an electric blanket, use skin-to-skin contact. Place your skin against the person's body and cover both of you with loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels or sheets.
  • If the person is awake, give him or her a warm beverage. This can help raise the body temperature. Do not give alcohol. Never give a drink to someone who is unconscious (not alert). 
  • Keep the person dry and wrapped in a warm blanket, including their head and neck, until medical help arrives.
A person with severe hypothermia may be unconscious and may not seem to have a pulse or to be breathing. Call 911 and then gently try to warm the person. Do CPR until the person responds or medical help arrives. Sometimes, people with hypothermia who seem dead can be successfully resuscitated.

This content originally appeared on
 Dr. Kathleen Handal, MD
Emergency Medicine
The following are the first aid treatment guidelines for hypothermia:

  • Get victim out of the cold. Your goal is to prevent further heat loss and add warmth.
  • Call for medical help. If victim is unresponsive and not breathing, an untrained rescuer should start Chest Compressions before rewarming.
  • If you are far from medical care, start rewarming the victim. Rapid warming is required. Remove any wet clothes, pat victim dry. Cover victim's head, not face. If possible, submerge victim in warm water (100 - 105 degrees F/37- 40 degrees C) up to the chin. If unable to submerge victim, use a space blanket or your own body heat to warm victim.  Apply warm - not hot - packs to neck, armpits and groin. Reapply as packs become cool.
  • Stay with the victim, warming him or her while monitoring responsiveness and breathing until help arrives.
  • If victim must be moved, do so gently, keeping the victim in the horizontal position.
  • Do not leave victim alone.
  • Do not use hot water to warm victim.
  • Do not give hot liquids, alcohol, or anything by mouth.
  • Do not move the victim unless necessary.
  • Do not rub or massage the victim.

Continue Learning about First Aid For Natural Exposure

How to Avoid a Heat Stroke in Extreme Temperatures
How to Avoid a Heat Stroke in Extreme Temperatures
Your internal thermostat works to keep your core temperature within two degrees of 98.6°F. Your hypothalamus helps your body stay hydrated, maintain s...
Read More
Football Players, Heat Stroke and You
Football Players, Heat Stroke and You
Last year, five high school football players died from heat stroke. Shocked? You should be. After all, heat stroke is entirely preventable. Yet this w...
Read More
How should I care for someone with hypothermia?
American Red CrossAmerican Red Cross
To care for hypothermia: Start by caring for life-threatening conditions. Make the person comfor...
More Answers
Why are some people unaware of heat- or cold-related emergencies?
American Red CrossAmerican Red Cross
People usually try to get out of extreme heat or cold before they begin to feel ill. However, so...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.