Did you know that Cold Injuries are very common emergencies in South Africa?

Did you know that Cold Injuries are very common emergencies in South Africa?

Did you know that Cold Injuries are very common emergencies in South Africa?

Cold injuries can be generalised (spread across your body) or localised in a specific region of your body. The generalised form of cold injury is called Hypothermia, which drops your body’s core temperature to below 35oC. The localised cold injury is called Frostbite or a non-freezing cold injury.

Other more common cold injuries include Trench foot and Chilblains.


How Dangerous can Cold Injuries be?

Cold injuries can silently and slowly kill you. Their danger lies in the rate at which they hit and shut down your body’s thermostat, circulation and neurological function. Left unattended, cold injuries deplete your body of its natural capacity to process oxygen and preserve vital organ function. Any organ, including your brain, can spontaneously shut down in response to cold exposure.


Life-threatening cold injury symptoms are:

  • Clenched jaw and shivering.
  • Severe fatigue bordering on passing out.
  • Confusion and disorientation.
  • Loss of coordination.
  • Blue skin.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • d pulse and breathing.
  • Loss of consciousness.


The following factors place many South Africans are at a higher risk for cold injury:

  • Low temperatures
  • Increased exposure to cold temperatures
  • Immobility
  • Intoxication
  • Mental Illness
  • Lack of Protective Clothing or equipment
  • Immersion in cold water or cold air
  • Fitness levels
  • Age
  • Location


It is important to ensure sufficient shelter and heating in your households. However, many South Africans are not fortunate enough to have all the required resources to see them through the winter and protect themselves and their families against cold injuries.

Thousands of children pass away per year during winter in South Africa due to insufficient heating, clothing and nutrition. The infant mortality rate (which is the number of deaths per 1 000 live births of children under the age of 1) is increased due to households, social development and healthcare facilities all lacking primary resources to care for and protect babies. Toddlers who are malnourished and insufficiently clothed are at risk of missing crucial growth milestones because living in survival mode as soon as the weather dips. Going to school can prove to be helpful, however, children must return to dark or cold homes and still make means to get homework done.


Cold exposure is an annual South African crisis, worsened by the effects of COVID-19.

What can you do to stay warm?

  • Reduce heat loss by insulating your home or insulating your body with increased layers of clothing and blankets.
  • Increase your resting metabolic rate by exercising and eating thermogenic (heat-generating) foods such as chilli.
  • Be economic about the amount of energy you use vs the number of calories you consume – you can enjoy eating more where possible to sustain your body’s core temperature without moving around too much, which will make your heart work harder once you’re at rest and could make you colder when stationary or inactive.
  • Drink as many warm fluids as you can.
  • Invest in personal and household devices per year that can last your family a lifetime – hot water bottles, gas heaters and blankets.


Here’s what you can do if you or a loved one has a cold injury:

In the event of cold exposure, you would need a heat pack, air warmers, protection from trauma, after drops, shocks, oxygen supplementation, ventilation, CPR or further hospital stabilisation, depending on the severity of your symptoms.

Your Affinity Rescue plan can help cover stabilisation in the event of life-threatening cold injury.

You would need to contact us on 0861 11 77 74 to access emergency response.

A faster way, if you have connectivity, is to send an emergency alert using the Affinity Rescue linked iER App.

iER is a FREE emergency response app available for download and can be used on an Android, iOS or HarmonyOS smartphone – Connecting you to emergency services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Your mobile internet connection and location are required for you to send alerts for emergency assistance.

iER is ideal for use by everyone in medical emergencies, police emergencies and any other life-threatening situations.

[Store links: Google Play; App Store; Huawei App Gallery]

    • The iER App is 100% FREE to use on your smart device. There are no in-app purchases or adverts.
    • iER uses your mobile internet connection to receive your alerts, chat with you and update you with the status of your alert.
    • A selection of Silent or General alert options is instantly sent to our 24/7 call centre who will respond within seconds!
    • Send us your pictures and voice messages through the NEW in-app chat service.
    • Your immediate GPS position is sent to iER with your alert so that emergency services are deployed to your exact location.

Stay safe and stay warm for the remainder of this winter. Contact us in the event of any emergency.

Affinity Rescue is here for you.

Enter your keyword