WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Indoor Temps Also a Concern During Arctic Blast

Jan 4, 2014

It’s possible for someone to suffer from hypothermia during extreme winter weather -- even if he/she never ventures outdoors.

In a news release, the Illinois Department of Public Health said, “Even consistent, mildly cool indoor temperatures of 60 degrees to 65 degrees F can trigger hypothermia.”

Spokesperson Melaney Arnold said those who are most susceptible are the very young and the very old.

Credit Rich Egger

“We certainly recommend that elderly people set the thermostat in their homes to about 65 or above,” Arnold said. 

“People with small children should consider doing the same. Infants don’t put off as much body heat so that can be an issue as well.”

Arnold recommended checking on the elderly friends and neighbors during the cold snap to make sure their homes are warm enough.

The IDPH said warning signs of hypothermia include forgetfulness, drowsiness, slurred speech, and a weak pulse. The department said anyone whose body temperature drops below 95 F should be taken directly to the hospital.  A body temperature below 90 F can cause a life-threatening situation.

The IDPH also warned the threat of frostbite exists for those who head outside during the extremely cold temperatures. The department said frostbitten areas should be warmed gradually by wrapping them with a blanket, coat, or sweater.

Frostbitten areas should not be rubbed because the friction can damage the tissue.

More information can be found in the IDPH Weathering Winter booklet.