Deaths from cold weather much higher in rural West
New research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the western half of the U.S. has a much higher rate of cold weather-related deaths compared than the rest of the country. States included in the U.S. West, according to the report, include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
To conduct their study, researchers analyzed data from the U.S. National Vital Statistics System and saw that deaths from cold weather were much lower in metropolitan areas, ranging from 2.9 to 5.0 per million population. That compared to a rate of 20.5 deaths per million population in the West.
In an accompanying report and infographic from the BMJ, data suggests the rural cold phenomenon in the West has been rising and researchers aren’t sure why. They surmise that increased risk may be due to rapid temperature shifts, higher elevations, and extreme temperature shifts at night.
In the CDC’s report, specific causes of death by cold weather include hypothermia and excessive exposure to unnaturally cold weather. The cold weather also is especially dangerous for those with pre-existing medical conditions, people who have trouble regulating their body temperature, and those taking medications that may make them more susceptible to the cold.