Old age

December 11, 2012

Hypothermia and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Cases Soar in City After Hurricane

Source: New York Times Online, November 29, 2012
Posted on: http://specialfpn1.advisen.com

The number of cold-exposure cases in New York City tripled in the weeks after Hurricane Sandy struck compared with the same period in previous years, the health department reported in an alert to thousands of doctors and other health care providers on Wednesday.

And even though power and heat have been restored to most of the city, there are still thousands of people living in the cold, the department said.

The department warned health care providers that residents living in unheated homes faced “a significant risk of serious illness and death from multiple causes.”

The number of cases of carbon monoxide exposure, which can be fatal, was more than 10 times as high as expected the week of the storm and 6 times as high the next week, reflected in greater numbers of emergency department visits. Calls to the city’s poison center also increased, health officials said.

And as temperatures dip, health officials said the cold could lead to other health problems, including a worsening of heart and lung diseases and an increase in anxiety and depression.

“My bigger concern is what happens in the future as we get closer to winter in the next four weeks,” Dr. Thomas A. Farley, the city’s health commissioner, said in an interview. “There are probably about 12,000 people living in unheated apartments right now.”

Between Nov. 3 and 21, more than three times as many people visited emergency rooms for cold exposure as appeared during the same time periods from 2008 to 2011, the health department said. The storm hit on Oct. 29.…