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Office of the Vermont Attorney General

Attorney General’s Office Warns of Increased Hypothermia Risk for Vulnerable Vermonters; Heating Assistance Available

January 31, 2019

Contact: Charity Clark, Chief of Staff, 802-828-3171

With extreme cold hitting Vermont, Attorney General T.J. Donovan is warning that older adults and those with chronic medical conditions are especially susceptible to hypothermia. Hypothermia is a dangerous drop in core body temperature. It caused 16 deaths in Vermont last year. The Attorney General’s message comes through his Elder Protection Initiative and the Vulnerable Adult Fatality Review Team.

Warning signs of hypothermia include: slowed or slurred speech; sleepiness or confusion; shivering or stiffness in the arms and legs; poor control over body movements; slow reactions, a weak pulse, or a core body temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.

Tips for Hypothermia Prevention in Older Individuals:

  • If you know of an older community member who keeps their home heat temperature low to save on energy costs, inform them of Vermont’s many fuel assistance programs (see next page) and check on them before and during a cold snap.
  • Make sure your own home is warm enough. Experts suggest that, for older individuals, the temperature should be set to at least 68 degrees.
  • Check with your doctor to see if any prescription or over-the-counter medications you take may increase your risk for hypothermia.
  • To stay warm at home, wear long underwear under your clothes, along with socks and slippers. Use a blanket or afghan to keep your legs and shoulders warm and wear a hat or cap indoors.
  • When going outside in the cold, it is important to wear a hat, scarf, and gloves or mittens to prevent loss of body heat through your head and hands. Wear several layers of loose clothing to help trap warm air between the layers.
  • If possible, let others know when you’re planning to spend time outdoors and carry a fully charged cellphone.

Vermont Heating Assistance Programs

The following programs provide heating assistance to qualifying Vermonters, including in emergency situations where an individual or family is about to run out of fuel or be disconnected from electric service. To learn more about these programs, call the listed contacts, dial 2-1-1, or visit Vermont 2-1-1’s “Utility Assistance” webpage here.


Program Name Service Provided Contact
Crisis Fuel Assistance Help to purchase heat, electricity, repair furnace, negotiate payments plans, prevent disconnection Your local Community Action Agency.
WARMTH Program Help to purchase heat in emergency Your local Community Action Agency.
Fuel Your Neighbors Emergency heating assistance Your local Community Action Agency
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program Help to pay home heating bills. Dept. of Children and Families:

1-800-479-6151 (including after-hours assistance)

Split the Ticket Free fuel, donated by VT Fuel Dealers Association VT Fuel Dealers Association:



The mission of the Attorney General’s Elder Protection Initiative (EPI) is to promote the safety and security of older Vermonters. To learn more about the EPI, visit its website here.

The Vermont Vulnerable Adult Fatality Review Team was established through legislation in 2016 and functions under the auspices of the Office of the Attorney General. The Team consists of representatives of State and private entities and associations. Its purpose is to examine select cases of abuse and neglect-related fatalities and preventable deaths of vulnerable adults with the goal of improving the lives of Vermonters.

Last modified: January 31, 2019