State health officials on Wednesday reported the first hypothermia-related death of the season.
A Garrett County woman over the age of 65 was the first of the winter weather season whose death was tied to cold weather. During last year's winter weather season, there were 34 cold-related deaths in Maryland, officials said.
“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, said in a statement. “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.”
State health officials monitor conditions and reports of cold-related illnesses and deaths. You can find that information online, along with the state's cold weather emergency plan and fact sheets about health issues, carbon monoxide, driving tips and warning signs of a heart attack.
Besides hypothermia, cold weather can lead to other dangers, including frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning and injuries from heat sources. State health officials urge you to stay warm by covering your head, mouth, ears and lower part of your face during extreme cold weather, wearing multiple layers, and putting on either waterproof boots or sturdy shoes.
Carbon monoxide is produced by malfunctioning gas furnaces, small gasoline engines, stoves, generators, lanterns, gas ranges or by burning charcoal or wood. State officials say you should install a carbon monoxide detector in your home, if one isn't already there. Take care to make sure your hearing sources are properly installed, operated and maintained, and never use your oven as a substitute for a heater.
Anyone in need of housing or energy assistance is asked to call 211 to find out about resources. You can also check the health department's website for more information.