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HYPOTHERMIA IS a medical emergency that is completely preventable.1 Hypothermia occurs when persons are exposed to ambient cold temperatures without appropriate protection for extended periods of time.1 The clinical definition of hypothermia is a core body temperature ≤95°F (35°C).1 This report describes cases of hypothermia-related deaths in Utah during 2000 and describes unintentional hypothermia-related deaths in the United States during 1979-1998. The Utah cases illustrate risk factors and environmental conditions associated with hypothermia.
In February 2000, a man aged 50 years was found dead in an alley behind local businesses in urban Utah. The high temperature that day had been 50°F (10°C), and the low temperature had been 36°F (2°C) with 0.1 inch of precipitation. The decedent was a transient who overused alcohol. His postmortem blood alcohol level was 0.36 g/dL. The death certificate listed the cause of death as hypothermia attributed to acute and chronic alcoholism.
Hypothermia-Related Deaths—Utah, 2000, and United States, 1979-1998. Arch Dermatol. 2002;138(5):705–706. doi:10.1001/archderm.138.5.705
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