It may be the one time when mumbling can actually kill you.
Hypothermia - the loss of core body temperature due to exposure to the elements - can creep up on you and leave you incapacitated fairly quickly. Symptoms include a gradual loss of mental and physical abilities.
Severe hypothermia can lead to death.
Each year, hypothermia kills nearly 700 people in the United States. Death is brought on by cardiac or respiratory failure.
Hypothermia occurs gradually, leaving victims unaware they are in need of medical attention. Common warning signs include shivering and, according to the Mayo Clinic, the "-umbles": mumbling, stumbling, fumbling and grumbling.
Other symptoms include: slurred speech; a slow breathing rate; cold, pale skin; and fatigue, lethargy and apathy.
The severity of hypothermia depends on how far the core body temperature dips away from its norm of 98.6 degrees. Not wearing enough clothing in cold weather or exposure to cold water can suck more heat out of a person's body than it can produce.
Wind and wet clothing can also play a factor in contracting hypothermia.
Certain mitigating factors can make people more susceptible to hypothermia: old age, very young age, mental impairment such as Alzheimer's, alcohol and drug use, water conditions and certain medical conditions (stroke, underactive thyroid, Parkinson's, spinal cord injuries, blood disorders, etc.).
What to do for a person who is suffering from hypothermia:
move the person out of the cold;
remove wet clothing;
insulate the person from the cold ground;
provide warm beverages.
What not to do?
Don't apply direct heat by using hot water, a heating pad or heating lamp. Instead, apply warm compresses to the neck, chest and groin wall. Don't massage or rub the victim. People suffering from hypothermia should be handled gently because they are at risk of cardiac arrest.
And, finally, don't provide the victim with alcoholic beverages. Alcohol lowers the body's ability to keep heat in.
"You try to warm them up as quickly as you can," Dr. Greg Pierson, Warren General Hospital's Emergency Room director, said. "There are a number of ways of doing it. We can use intravenous methods, but it doesn't work as well as you would think. We use warm blankets. We have a heating blanket for hypothermia."
Pierson said that during his 18 at WGH, he has yet to see a case of hypothermia.
"You would think we would, but I just haven't seen it. We see a little bit of frostbite injury, but that's it."