Cold weather-related deaths up to 4 in Maryland

State health officials confirmed two more cold weather-related deaths in Maryland over the past week, bringing the death toll to four in Maryland so far this winter.

Hypothermia was a factor in the death of a Calvert County woman aged 45-64 some time between Jan. 1 and Monday. Cold weather also contributed to the death of a Carroll County man aged 45-64 some time earlier this winter but only confirmed since Jan. 1.

Since New Year's Day, all but one day has dipped below freezing at BWI Marshall Airport and all but two days reached the 20s. In December, 13 days dropped below freezing.

Hypothermia occurs when body temperature drops below 95 degrees, too low for normal body functioning. The illness is most common in elderly people with inadequate food, clothing, or heating, babies sleeping in cold bedrooms, people who remain outdoors for long periods and people who drink alcohol or use illicit drugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Warning signs in adults include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness. Infants with hypothermia typically have bright red, cold skin and/or very low energy, according to CDC.

Health officials encourage wearing layers, hats, scarves and wool socks when exposed to the cold outdoors for long periods.

Earlier this winter, hypothermia was confirmed as a factor in the deaths of an elderly Frederick County man and an elderly Prince George's County woman.

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