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Mimishu1995's avatar

Why do we have to keep an injured person warm?

Asked by Mimishu1995 (23630points) May 16th, 2015

The other day my politics teacher was telling us stories about the war. At one point he talked about a battle on the sea. Some soldiers were wounded and fell into the water. He said: “It was fortunate that at that time the water was warm, otherwise those wounded soldiers would have died. They needed to be kept warm as they were wounded.

That makes me wonder: Why did they need to be kept warm? What happens in the body of an injured person that demands them that?

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6 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

If you ever get hurt enough to go into shock, your body gets cold and you shake really bad. It’s additional stress that isn’t a lot of fun. Keeping them warm reduces the stuff they have to deal with. It isn’t a fun ride.

marinelife's avatar

Shock occurs after a traumatic injury. The body leaches the blood from your extremities and send it all to your core.

Further, being in cold water induces even more stress and heat loss to the body.

kritiper's avatar

Shock kills more people after accidents/trauma than the injuries themselves. Even on hot days, the victim must be kept warm, with a blanket, coat, anything. The first thing to treat is always shock. The feet must also be elevated above the head, if possible.

JLeslie's avatar

The jellies above are right, although, in some instances the cold can slow bleeding, which sometimes is beneficial.

Very cold water would induce hypothermia and kill fairly quickly even if the person didn’t have any wounds.

I seem to remember reading that very young children survive long times under water, basically drownings, better if the water is cold. There have been reports of what seems to be miraculous recovery of lifeless children being pulled out of icy waters.

Pandora's avatar

When your body goes into shock you can suffer from low blood pressure, irregular of fast heart beat and a weak pulse. When this happens your organs (including your heart) may not get sufficient blood. This is why you have to raise a persons legs above the level of the heart. You need to make sure there is sufficient blood going to the core of the body and head.
Your body will shake uncontrollably which can be made worse by being cold. If you have a wound, I would imagine that the shaking can cause you to bleed out faster.

@JLeslie I always figured that small children freeze so much quicker so everything gets frozen at the same time and maybe this is what helps them because it preserves the organs. Where as a grown person will freeze on the surface first and the organs will shut down from extreme stress and lack of oxygen before freezing completely. So the organs are damaged beyond repair. It’s like the way freezed dried meat can be thawed out and defrosted and the meat looks untouched but regular frozen meat get frozen and will be browner on top and pinker in the middle. The skin is our largest organ. When a certain amount is damaged, we die because it regulates our body temperature. I’m just guessing. But it is what I always thought was the reason behind small children surviving freezing better than adults.

JLeslie's avatar

@Pandora That sounds like a real possibility. I think medical science still says they don’t know why, which means usually they just haven’t proven why through scientific methods. Although, in freezing cold water I would assume hypothermia and death sets in extremely fast for both the child and adult. I doubt it is more than a minute’s difference? I really don’t know. A child might die faster if they don’t know how to hold their breath. Although, when plunged into ice cold water it is difficult to hold your breath anyway. I wonder if that is some sort of life preserving reflex?

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