27 Deaths From Hypothermia Recorded Last Winter, Says State

Some Deaths Occurred Indoors, Due To Furnaces That Were Faulty Or Turned Off

Olson NJ (CC-BY-NC-SA)

There were more than two-dozen deaths related to hypothermia in Wisconsin last winter when the state had record-low temperatures, according to the state’s Division of Public Health.

Hypothermia is when the body’s core temperature drops below 95 degrees.

“At that point you start to have shivering, you start to get clumsy, you have trouble speaking,” said Dr. Paul Hick, medical director of Meriter Hospital’s emergency room in Madison. “You can have poor judgement, trouble thinking straight. You prevent it by dressing appropriately and staying warm and dry.”

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The state report, published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, showed that from Jan. 1 to April 30 last year, there were 27 deaths linked to hypothermia. Eighteen bodies were discovered outdoors where the winter temperature ranged from minus 14 to positive 35 degrees. Those found inside were in homes with furnaces that weren’t on or weren’t working.

The report says five of the hypothermia cases had a history of mental illness. Fifteen lived alone and two were homeless.

Hypothermia is a risk during the frigid conditions Wisconsin is currently seeing as well. The bitter cold will ease a bit over the next few days, but the mercury will still dip below zero at night.