Environmental Emergencies: Hot and Cold

Participants enrolled in standard first aid training will learn to recognize, treat and care for victims of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, hypothermia and frost bite.  Much of the initial treatment for these environmental emergencies is almost identical. The material posted on this page is for participants that want to know the necessary requirements and the outline of the environmental emergencies component of a standard first aid course.

To successfully complete the environmental emergencies component participants must:

  • Check the scene and environment for any dangers or hazards.
  • Determine the mechanism of injury, history and / or cause of the emergency.
  • Remove the patient from the environment that is causing the emergency.
  • Complete the primary assessment (contact EMS if necessary).
  • Send a bystander to contact EMS and obtain an AED if possible and necessary.
  • Place the patient into a appropriate position and limit movement if possible.
  • Treat the patient for shock and reassure the victim.
  • Complete the secondary assessment.

For victims of heat cramps or heat exhaustion:

  • Give the patient fluids if he or she is conscious and alert.
    Heat Cramps

    A common area for heat cramps is the calves. Stretching and massaging may help relieve the cramps.

  • Stretch and massage the cramped area.

For victims of heat stroke:

  • Aggressively / actively cool the patient to reduce core temperature.

For victims of hypothermia:

  • Warm patient to increase the core temperature.
  • For victims of frostbite:
  • Apply dressing and keep the patient warm.

Additional Notes:

  • Patients with altering levels of consciousness require EMS.
  • Using wet towels are extremely effective at cooling patients quickly.
  • Handle patients with severe hypothermia gently.

The information posted on this page is the minimum requirements for candidates to understand and demonstrate when treating and caring for patients of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, hypothermia and frostbite. To learn the skills and knowledge to recognize, treat and care for patients of these environmental emergencies take a standard first aid course through a credible provider. Our training partners are located throughout Canada in almost every province in territory with training now available in Winnipeg. To find a provider near you visit our “locations page” from the main menu.