Hypothermia is a medical emergency that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature. Left untreated, hypothermia can lead to complete heart and respiratory failure and eventual death. Because hypothermia is often caused by exposure to cold weather, security personnel should be especially attuned to persons at risk during the District of Columbia’s hypothermia season, which began on November 1, 2017, and ends on March 31, 2018.
Hypothermia services in the District go into effect whenever the actual temperature, including wind chill factor, is 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below. When assessing whether someone is at risk of hypothermia, security personnel can look for such factors as being out in the cold without proper clothing or other covering, and whether someone’s clothing is wet, which can contribute to hypothermia. Other symptoms include, shivering, slurred speech, confusion, and loss of consciousness.
If security personnel see someone experiencing homelessness or who may be impacted by extreme temperatures, they can contact 311 or the Hypothermia Hotline at 202-399-7093. If security personnel encounter families seeking emergency shelter during hypothermia season, they can be referred to the Virginia Williams Family Resource Center (VWFRC), located at 920-A Rhode Island Avenue, NE and by phone at 202-526-0017. VWFRC operates between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Thursdays (except for holidays and days on which the District Government is closed). After 4:00 p.m. and on Fridays, weekends, and holidays, families should call the Shelter Hotline for transportation to the D.C. General Family Shelter or other available family shelters.
This article is part of the MPD’s “Security Snapshot” series, which is designed for security personnel working in the District of Columbia. While this information may be of interest to the general public, any recommendations or guidance in these articles has been created with a focus on security personnel.