January 22, 1997

Hypothermia-Related Deaths— Vermont, October 1994-February 1996

JAMA. 1997;277(4):283-284. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540280021013

HYPOTHERMIA is a lowering of the core body temperature to ≤95 F (≤35 C).1 From 1979 through 1992, a total of 10 550 persons in the United States died from hypothermia, an average of 754 deaths per year (range: 557-1021 deaths).2 From October 1994 through February 1996, a total of 10 hypothermia-related deaths were reported by the chief medical examiner in Vermont. The average age of the 10 decedents was 62 years (range: 18-88 years); eight were men. Seven decedents were reported to have had histories of mental illness, and alcohol abuse was mentioned on the police or pathology report for two decedents. This report summarizes the investigation of three of these deaths and describes risk factors commonly associated with hypothermia.

Case 1. In March 1995, an 18-year-old woman was found dead, lightly clothed, and covered in snow in the woods behind her house. During the preceding 24