by Ashley Zilka on December 12, 2010 at 10:39 am

Reports indicate that nearly 700 cases of hypothermia fatalities occur each year in the United States.

With temperatures taking a dive and wind chills dipping below zero at times, it’s important to stay warm.  Dr. Charles Feicht of Genesis Good Samaritan Hospital explains how hypothermia can sneak up on you.

"In the healthy individual, the initial symptom is feeling cold and then that’s followed by shivering and then if nothing is done to correct the problem, you just become weak, and eventually you lose consciousness," said Feicht. 

Symptoms of hypothermia are not the easiest to diagnose, so the key is prevention.  According to Dr. Feicht, wearing warm clothes and also making sure you have enough energy are significant factors.

"If you are in the outdoors, obviously the best thing is to get help, maximize your ability to keep your own heat until you can find a rescue situation," said Feicht. 

Doctors say hypothermia should not be taken lightly.  If you notice any problems from being exposed to the cold, they emphasize to not hesitate. Remove wet clothing and move the person to a warm and dry place.  Chemical heat packs can be used on the person’s groin, neck and armpits.  If you see no improvement, you should seek medical attention right away.