AUGUSTA – With Maine experiencing continued and unseasonably cold temperatures, Governor Paul R. LePage and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention advise people to aware of the dangers associated with extremely cold weather that could impact health and safety. During extreme cold weather the two most serious health concerns are frostbite and hypothermia. Hypothermia happens when a person’s core body temperature is lower than 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
The main causes of hypothermia are: cold temperatures, improper clothing, shelter or heating, poor fluid intake leading to dehydration, not eating enough and alcohol consumption.
“The good news is that people can take some simple steps to reduce the risk of hypothermia,” said Dr. Sheila Pinette, Director of the Maine CDC. “If you have to go outside, make sure that you wear clothes with adequate insulation, stay hydrated and keep your clothing dry. Of course, the best advice is to stay inside in a well-heated location. This is especially important for the elderly, children and individuals who are ill who are at high risk.”
Individuals with medical or life support equipment should ensure they have extra batteries for medical equipment and assistive devices, Pinette said. Notify your utility company, local fire department and police if you need assistance. It’s important to check on the elderly, relatives and friends who may need additional assistance to ensure their safety.
Here are additional recommendations to help in extreme cold:
- Make sure you have a well-stocked winter home emergency supply kit
- Protect your pets by not leaving them outside for extended periods of time
- For many on fixed incomes, staying warm during the cold winter months can become dangerous. People with qualifying incomes may be eligible to receive help to pay for the high cost of heating oil and propane. Local Community Action Agency (CAA) administers fuel assistance programs in each county. For more information, please visit 211 Maine for a referral to a local CAA.