December 11, 2019
Deidre McCabe, Director, Office of Communications, 410-767-3536
Maureen Regan, Deputy Director, Office of Communications, 410-767-8649
Maryland Department of Health reports first cold-related illness death of the 2019-2020 winter weather season
Baltimore, MD – The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) today reported the first cold-related illness death in Maryland for the 2019-2020 winter weather season. The deceased individual is an adult male in the 45-64 age range. The death occurred in Baltimore City.
“As temperatures continue to drop, Marylanders are urged to take every precaution to help prevent cold-related illnesses,” said Deputy Secretary for Public Health Fran Phillips. “Take care to limit your exposure to the cold. Wear layers if you go outside and contact your local health department if you need access to a warming center in your area.”
From November through March, MDH’s Office of Preparedness and Response (OPR) monitors temperature, weather conditions and incidence of cold-related illnesses and deaths in the state. During the 2018-2019 winter weather season, MDH reported 54 cold-related deaths.
Cold-related illness includes conditions like hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia occurs when the body’s temperature falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Frostbite is the freezing and subsequent destruction of body tissue that may occur when skin temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Body parts that are most likely to freeze include toes, fingers, ears, cheeks and the tip of the nose.
To prevent the onset of cold-related illness, individuals should curb their exposure to cold weather, both by limiting time outside and by wearing several layers of lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. Insulate toes, fingers, ears, cheeks and the tip of the nose, as they are especially vulnerable to frostbite.
Marylanders in need of warming centers are encouraged to reach out to their local health department or to call 2-1-1 and provide their county location and ZIP code to get information about warming center locations, hours of operation and available accommodations.
Marylanders should also use caution while using various heat sources to stay warm. Some heating sources can cause fires, electrical injuries, burns or carbon monoxide poisoning if not installed, operated and maintained properly. Check heat sources to ensure they are safe prior to use, install carbon monoxide detectors and never use an oven as a heat source for the home.
More resources to help stay safe in cold weather — including cold-related illness surveillance reports, information about how to prevent cold-related illnesses, how to safely heat your home and how to drive safely in winter weather — are available via the OPR’s Extreme Cold website:
The Maryland Department of Health is dedicated to protecting and improving the health and safety of all Marylanders through disease prevention, access to care, quality management and community engagement.
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