Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Battle against Hypothermia Unites Business, State, Individuals

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Battle against Hypothermia Unites Business, State, Individuals

Article excerpt

Winter with its numbing coldness often brings reports of unfortunate people freezing to death inside their own homes. Often, the victims are elderly.

As winter approached in Oklahoma this year, a coalition of private companies, state agencies, and individuals from here and there, all blended into what was called the Oklahoma Energy and Aging Consortium, set out to do something about energy-related health care problems.

The key state agency: Oklahoma's Corporation Commission.

The principal target: hypothermia.

The Consortium turned to Moulton Avery, director of the Center for Environmental Physiology in Washington, D.C., who was invited to come in and help train professionals and volunteers to recognize the symptoms of hypothermia and to show people how to avoid it as well as treat it.

Avery and the Oklahoma participants relied on a series of video workshops to send the message across the state. Broadcasts, originating at Oklahoma State University, were beamed via satellite to 36 country Extension Service sites.

"Most people think of hypothermia as freezing to death in severe outdoor cold," said Avery. "In fact, most hypothermia victims are older people dying in their own homes."

Among the elerdy, death attributable to hypothermia can occur when temperatures drop below 65 degrees.

What the Oklahoma consortium achieved, at least in some measure, was a high quotient of awareness. By educating professionals, paraprofessionals, and others in the basics of avoiding hypothermia, it is quite likely that many lives, which might otherwise have been lost, will be saved during this winter season.

People were being taught how to lower the usage of energy and still keep warm. Even the simple tasks of dressing properly for cold weather, of eating the most nutritious foods, were not ignored in the training. And, equally important, the volunteers were taught how to recognize the symptoms of cold stress. …

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