Alcohol and certain drugs increase risk of hypothermia

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) says those that use alcohol and certain drugs are at an increased risk of hypothermia.

Hypothermia occurs when the body’s core temperature drops to 95 degrees or lower and its effects can be deadly.

<Previous story: Roane County man dies of hypothermia, becomes state’s 11th weather related death

“We all need to be prepared and dress for the weather,” said TDH Comissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “It is even more important if you are drinking alcohol or suspect someone else has been drinking to watch out for hypothermia.”


Dreyzehner says the warm feeling from alcohol is heat leaving the body. He says alcohol and some other drugs make it harder for to retain heat.

The Tennessee Department of Health suggests dressing in layers, changing out of wet clothes, limiting time outdoors and avoiding alcohol.

Adopting a “buddy” system is also recommended so friends can check on one another often to look for signs of cold weather health problems.

“We’ve sadly lost Tennesseans to cold weather this year already and we need to make sure more of our friends and neighbors are protected from harm,” said TEMA Deputy Commissioner David Purkey. “If there are older people in your neighborhood, check on them regularly to make sure they’re okay.”

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