Maryland reports first cold-related death this winter
 
Baltimore, MD (December 6, 2017) – The first Maryland death related to hypothermia this winter has been reported, according to the Department of Health and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The death occurred in Garrett County and was an adult female in the 65+ age range.  There were 34 cold-related deaths in Maryland during the 2016-2017 winter weather season.
 
“Hypothermia can occur even when temperatures are 40 or 50 degrees outside,” Dr. Jinlene Chan, acting deputy secretary for the Maryland Department of Health’s Public Health Services Administration. “Take steps to stay warm and dry. Now is the time to buy emergency supplies for your home and car, such as extra blankets and a first aid kit.”
 
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://preparedness.health.maryland.gov/Pages/Extreme-Cold.aspx. The site also includes the State Cold Weather 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 for download 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.
 
The Department of Health encourages individuals to stay warm by covering their head, mouth, ears, and lower part of the face 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, so the public is strongly encouraged to install carbon monoxide detectors in their home. 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 2-1-1 to see if there are resources available to help. For more information on emergency preparedness, visit http://preparedness.health.maryland.gov.
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