Mary­land re­ports first cold-re­lated death of the sea­son

Health ex­perts warn res­i­dents of hy­pother­mia, car­bon monox­ide

The Enterprise - - News - By DANDAN ZOU [email protected]­news.com

As the state re­ported this sea­son’s first cold-re­lated death last week, lo­cal health of­fi­cial are ad­vis­ing res­i­dents to watch out for hy­pother­mia, frost­bite and car­bon monox­ide poi­son­ing.

The first hy­pother­mia-re­lated death this fall was a Gar­rett County man who was older than 65, ac­cord­ing to the Mary­land De­part­ment of Health.

Last win­ter, Mary­land had 61 cold-re­lated deaths, nearly dou­bling the num­ber of the pre­vi­ous year, ac­cord­ing to the state’s health de­part­ment. Among all deaths, 16 of them were thought to be home­less. The Gar­rett man who died this year was not home­less, ac­cord­ing to health of­fi­cials.

In South­ern Mary­land, St. Mary’s had one cold-re­lated death last sea­son, while Charles and Calvert had none.

As win­ter nears and tem­per­a­tures are ex­pected to drop, health of­fi­cials say now is the time to take steps to stay warm and pre­pare for cold-re­lated haz­ards such as hy­pother­mia, frost­bite and car­bon monox­ide poi­son­ing.

Hy­pother­mia is of­ten caused by ex­po­sure to cold weather or im­mer­sion in cold water. It oc­curs when the body tem­per­a­ture drops below 95 de­grees from a nor­mal tem­per­a­ture of about 98.6 de­grees. Hy­pother­mia can oc­cur even when tem­per­a­tures are 40 or 50 de­grees out­side if it’s windy or rainy, which can con­trib­ute to heat loss, said Greg Ford, pub­lic health emer­gency plan­ner at the St. Mary’s County Health De­part­ment.

Warn­ing signs of hy­pother­mia in­clude shiv­er­ing, ex­haus­tion, drowsi­ness, hav­ing trou­ble with speech and difficulty ma­nip­u­lat­ing things with the hands.

Frost­bite is the other cold-re­lated con­di­tion health of­fi­cials want peo­ple to keep in mind. Caused by freez­ing of body tis­sue, it oc­curs when skin tem­per­a­ture falls below the freez­ing point of 32 de­grees. In se­vere cases, frost­bite can lead to am­pu­ta­tion.

The skin turns white or gray­ish yel­low, and peo­ple can feel numb­ness or clum­si­ness, ac­cord­ing to Rebecca Hazel, pub­lic health emer­gency plan­ner at the Calvert County Health De­part­ment.

When frost­bite hap­pens, Ford said to im­merse af­fected ar­eas in com­fort­able, warm water to slowly raise the tem­per­a­ture or put on ba­sic gloves or a warm blan­ket.

Hazel warned against us­ing heat­ing pads to treat frost­bite, be­cause skin can be burned go­ing from ex­treme cold to heat.

The third lurk­ing dan- ger in the win­ter that health of­fi­cials are con­cerned about is car­bon monox­ide poi­son­ing. Pro­duced by mal­func­tion­ing gas fur­naces, gaso­line en­gines, stoves, gen­er­a­tors, lan­terns, and char­coal or wood burn­ing, the col­or­less, odor­less gas can cause se­vere ill­nesses and even death.

Mary­lan­ders can call 211 for hous­ing and en- ergy re­sources. For more on cold-re­lated re­sources, visit https://pre­pared­ness. health. mar yland. gov/ Pages/ re­sources_ cold.aspx.

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