Public health efforts to reduce hypothermia-related deaths should focus on at-risk groups, particularly older persons and persons who live alone. Exposure to extreme cold is a leading cause of preventable weather-related mortality in the United States. Risks for hypothermia related death include advanced age, mental illness, male sex, and drug intoxication.
An analysis of death records showed that rates of hypothermia-related deaths increased in the United States during 2003–2012. A review of death investigations in Wisconsin revealed social isolation to be an important factor in hypothermia-related mortality. State and local health agencies can target public education and interventions to socially isolated groups, including older persons, the homeless, and those living alone.
It is the time of year when everyone should check in on their elderly neighbors.