Accidental hypothermia is defined as a body temperature lower than 35° C (95° F) in otherwise healthy individuals, resulting from excessive exposure to cold. Any thin person immersed in water around the British Isles for several hours, even in summer, is liable to suffer a dangerous degree of body cooling, and accidental hypothermia is the commonest cause of death after shipwreck.1 2 Hill walkers who lose their way or collapse from exhaustion may die of cold.3 Infants4 and some old people5 are particularly liable to hypothermia as they are less well able to conserve heat.
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