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Garrett County Senior Citizen Dies From Hypothermia

November 21st, 2018 by WCBC Radio

The Department of Health and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner announced today the first death related to hypothermia in Maryland this winter. The death occurred in Garrett County and was an adult male in the 65+ age range. There were 61 cold-related deaths in Maryland during the 2017-2018 winter weather season.

“Temperatures are expected to plummet across Maryland this Thanksgiving weekend,” said Maryland Department of Health Deputy Secretary for Public Health Fran Phillips. “If you must go outside, prevent cold-related illness, like hypothermia, by wearing layers and protecting your nose, ears, toes, and fingers. If you’re leaving town for the holiday weekend, pack a cold weather emergency car kit with blankets, warm clothes, an ice scraper, and food and water.”

From November through March, the Department of Health monitors temperature conditions and incidences of cold-related illnesses and deaths. Weekly reports can be found online at https://goo.gl/UHaaX8. The site also includes the state’s Extreme Cold Emergency Plan and fact sheets about cold weather health issues, carbon monoxide, driving tips for extreme cold weather, and warning signs of a heart attack. The fact sheets are available in English and eight other languages.

Some of the dangers associated with winter weather include hypothermia, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning, and injuries from heat sources. Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Frostbite is the freezing and subsequent destruction of body tissue that is likely to occur any time skin temperature gets below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The body parts most likely to freeze are toes, fingers, ears, cheeks, and the tip of the nose and should be covered during extreme cold weather. Individuals should also wear several layers of lightweight, loose-fitting clothing and waterproof boots or sturdy shoes to keep their feet warm and dry.

Carbon monoxide issues are another common winter hazard. This colorless, odorless gas is produced by malfunctioning gas furnaces, small gasoline engines, stoves, generators, lanterns, and gas ranges or by burning charcoal and wood. Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause severe illness and death. Marylanders are strongly encouraged to install carbon monoxide detectors in their homes. Heating sources can also cause fires, electrical injuries, and burns if not properly installed, operated, and maintained. Never use your oven to heat your home.

Maryland residents in need of housing or energy assistance to keep warm this winter should call 211 to see if there are resources available to help. For more information on emergency preparedness, visit https://goo.gl/9aniHw

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