AG's Office warns of increased Hypothermia risk for vulnerable Vermonters; heating assistance available

-A A +A

AG's Office warns of increased Hypothermia risk for vulnerable Vermonters; heating assistance available

Thu, 01/31/2019 - 12:24pm -- Brandon

MONTPELIER - 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


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.