Several Weather Related Deaths Suspected

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CLEVELAND — The brutal polar air brought bitter cold temperatures to Northeast Ohio setting several records and leaving several people dead.

“It was damn cold, it was really cold, but I’m lucky I didn’t have to work in it,” said Jim Kleppel of North Olmsted.

“It was hard for me to even take steps, my face was froze, every tear drop that fell down was freezing, it was really chilly out here,” said Jean Martinez of Cleveland.

With temperatures below zero the last few days and wind chills approaching 40 below, you didn’t have to be outside long to feel the effects.

“You couldn’t stand outside no longer than 30 seconds before your hands start freezing,” said Dwayne Langford of Cleveland.

At least three weather related deaths were suspected; two in Cuyahoga County alone and one in Summit County.

A 65-year-old Parma Heights man died earlier this week as a result of a heart attack while shoveling snow.

A 57-year-old Cleveland man was found outside in the 2100 block of East 68th Street.

A 42-year-old man was also found in his Akron driveway.

Emergency rooms have been busy treating patients with frost bite and hypothermia.  Both can be deadly if not treated quickly.

“I think people generally are not prepared for the cold temperatures or they are doing activities that they usually do in warmer temperatures,” said Dr. Jeffrey Luk of University Hospitals.

“With regards to hypothermia and the increased number of deaths that we’ve had in the last few days, those are typically associated to internal workings of the body where the body just isn’t accustomed to the cold and it’s not compensating for it as well,” said Dr. Luk.

Those who work downtown or have to be outside in the cold for long periods of time know the secret to staying warm when the temperatures drop:  layers and layers of clothes.

“Long johns, pair of sweat pants, pair of jeans top and bottom, only way you could have made it,” said Langford.

“Just wear a couple of sweatshirts, wear a good pair of gloves, wear two pairs of socks, some kind of good boots, you have to be smart,” added Kleppel.

With warmer temperatures on the horizon, hopefully it will be a while before we see temperatures that severe in Northeast Ohio.

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