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Winter's First Hypothermia Death; MD Officials Urge Caution

State officials released tips for avoiding cold-related illnesses, following a hypothermia-related death in Frederick County earlier this month.

State health officials on Thursday confirmed Maryland's first hypothermia-related death of the winter, and took the opportunity to remind residents how to protect themselves.

State officials said the death of a Frederick County man aged 65 or older was confirmed sometime between Dec. 18 and 24. The release said no further information on the man would be released for privacy reasons.

By this time in 2011, according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in the Thursday release from state officials, Maryland had recorded one hypothermia-related death, and 15 for all of last winter.

Though hypothermia is commonly associated with cold weather, it actually occurs when the body's temperature drops below 95 degrees. Frostbite occurs when body tissue freezes. State officials say extremities, as well as cheeks, ears and the tip of the nose, are most vulnerable. Anyone with circulation issues, as well as the elderly and very young, are most at risk for frostbite, according to state officials.

Here are tips for avoiding hypothermia and frostbite, via a state press release sent Thursday. For more, state officials directed readers to a page on the Department of Health and Mental Hygeine's website.

  • Cover your head. You lose as much as 50 percent of your body heat through your head.
  • Wear several layers of lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. The air between the layers acts as insulation to keep you warmer.
  • Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect lungs from direct cold air, and also cover your ears and the lower part of your face.
  • Wear mittens, not gloves. The close contact of fingers helps to keep your hands warm.
  • Wear warm leg coverings and heavy socks, or two pairs of lightweight socks.
  • Wear waterproof boots or sturdy shoes to keep your feet warm and dry

For statewide news from Patch, follow Maryland Patch on Facebook.

The original version of this article misstated the total hypothermia-related deaths for the 2011-2012 winter season. Patch regrets the error.

franking December 30, 2012 at 04:17 AM
Elderly people who have had their power shut off.
Ed December 30, 2012 at 04:27 AM
Well, let's see, there was a hypothermia death in Garret County back in October (the snowfall they got while the rest of us were dealing with Hurricane Sandy) which was technically BEFORE winter. A man died of hypothermia while trying to clear snow off his driveway. I think he was elderly but there was no indication he was mentally ill and surely wasn't homeless. Would YOU like to crawl back under YOUR rock now?
Ed December 30, 2012 at 04:40 AM
Well, let's see. It happened in Frederick. He's based in Eastern Baltimore County. Seeing as Patch doesn't even have an edition in Frederick County, I think that is way more effort than a local editor 50 miles away should be expected to invest in the story. Oh, yeah, and this is a FREE site. If you are that interested, why don't you surf over to the Frederick News-Post site and see if they have provided any more details. If they didn't, then complain to them since it happened in THEIR county.
Ed December 30, 2012 at 04:52 AM
It's because several years ago, DHMH (the agency that includes the medical examiner's office) was sued by the family of someone that died because of the information that was released by the office. The plaintiffs won. That means our tax dollars were used to defend the suit AND pay the verdict. So now, they are quite vague when talking about the circumstances of a death. I think the policy stinks, but as a taxpayer, I appreciate that they don't want to lose any more lawsuits.
mommaof sy December 30, 2012 at 09:54 AM
He was a vulnerable adult (elderly). It doesn't matter what the circumstances are in his death. He passed away probably alone, without heat and without anyone to care for him. Shame on those of you who want to know what happened (it's really none of your business), blame it on mental illness or homelessness. Have some compassion and look out for our fellow beings.

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