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EDITORIAL: Baby it's cold outside: And you can help keep that from being a fatal condition for someone nearby
Keene Sentinel - 12/27/2017
Dec. 27--B rrrr.
Though we've had a few storms blow through the region this month, including the icy mess that struck late last week, the true toll of winter in New Hampshire is being felt this week -- with bitter cold that could make even the hardiest of Granite Staters rethink their choice to live above the 42nd parallel.
It also ought to make locals braving the subzero temperatures pause and think: "I'm lucky to have a warm home to return to."
Indeed, because if scraping your windshield and warming up your engine are the worst inconveniences you have to deal with this week, as they are for many, you are fortunate indeed. The kind of cold we're now going through is not only a struggle; for some, it could be deadly.
Every year, more than a thousand Americans freeze to death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 1999 to 2011, 16,911 deaths were attributable to hypothermia. And thousands more die from related causes, such as carbon monoxide poisoning or fires linked to attempts to heat homes improperly. In one tragic case locally, a man living in the woods behind the West Street Shopping Center died in 2015 when his tent caught fire on a subzero January night.
There's no way to ensure such deaths don't happen, but we can all take steps to make them less likely.
The most obvious is to donate to homeless shelters, such as Hundred Nights in Keene, Our Place Drop-in Center in Bellows Falls or the Morningside Shelter in Brattleboro. These are the front lines in providing warmth on the coldest of nights.
Also useful is donating warm winter clothing or funds to agencies that serve the poor and homeless. Many area churches run clothing drives, seeking coats, hats, gloves and boots in good condition. And Operation Warm, supported by the Keene Fire Department and local Rotary organizations, collects funds to buy new coats for children in need. Donations made to the organization by Dec. 31 will be matched dollar for dollar.
Finally, take the time to check on your neighbors, especially the elderly or disabled, when temperatures are extreme. For those who can't get out or who are prone to confusion, a furnace going out can have dire consequences.
It doesn't take much on a frigid day to imagine yourself without shelter or warm clothing. The next step is to realize someone else is already there.
(c)2017 The Keene Sentinel (Keene, N.H.)
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