Hypothermia death confirmed during December 2021 cold snap

December 28, 2021

The Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s Office investigated and today confirmed one death from hypothermia, or extreme cold. The person who died on Christmas Day was housed, but was found outdoors. No additional cases are pending at this time. 

“This is a somber reminder that Cold weather is dangerous for anyone outside who does not have the right gear to stay dry and warm,” said Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines. “If you see a person outside and have any concern they might be at risk in this cold weather, please check on them or call for help.”

People lose heat fast when exposed to cold temperatures; and a person may not always realize when that happens. When a person’s body temperature drops, they may be unable to think clearly or move well. Symptoms of hypothermia can mimic the symptoms of impairment from drugs and alcohol.

If someone is clearly impaired and not dressed for the weather, try to get them someplace warm. If you don’t feel comfortable approaching them, dial 9-1-1.

If you see someone outside unsheltered whose life appears to be seriously in danger or is in an apparent medical crisis, call 9-1-1.

If you see someone about whom you are concerned, such as not being dressed appropriately for the weather conditions, call the County’s non-emergency line at 503-823-3333 and request a welfare check for that person.

To help someone find shelter and arrange transportation to shelter during cold or severe weather, please call 2-1-1.