Take care during coming freeze

This winter, fewer people than last year have received treatment for cold injuries. Nevertheless, people are invited to be watchful and inform emergency services.

Within the first fifteen days of 2019, about 60 people have received treatment for exposure injuries and hypothermia.

Part of these people are seniors who live alone. They can often have health trouble and are then unable to call for help on their own and are discovered by their neighbors or relatives, said State Emergency Medical Service representative Ilze Bukša.

Last year, there were several cases in Rīga of people freezing inside their own homes, according to council representative Lita Brice. She is asking people to contact the municipality if they feel their neighbors are not using heating utilities. 

"It's not normal for people to freeze to death inside their own homes. It's very sad. We can say, in this case, that we as the public are responsible for what happens with our neighbors, because the Social Department can't know everything," she said.

Bukša meanwhile suggests taking special care about the elderly, calling them every day and looking after them, like providing them with firewood and asking the neighbors to keep an eye on them.

She also said people often fall on the street, and in many cases people with cold injuries have consumed alcohol.

Meanwhile 19 people have died from the cold since October. Among them were three women and sixteen men. 35 people died within this period last year, with most of them dying in the Latgale cultural region, eastern Latvia.

Jolanta Vamze-Liepiņa, an expert at the State Centre for Forensic Medical Examination, said that upon seeing someone lying on the street in the cold, you should prod them and try to wake them up. In some cases, people are able to go on their way, while in others one should request for help. If, however, there's no reaction from the person, you should call the ambulance.  

Meanwhile two people have died from the cold in Rīga since the fall. People can also call a special phone number, +371 27023550 to report homeless people in Rīga, with the police sent to the scene and inviting homeless people to stay in Rīga's shelters.

There are a total of seven shelters in Rīga offering dinner and a place to stay. About 640 spots out of 890 available across Rīga were occupied in the night shelters. 

As reported, temperatures are expected to plunge over the weekend with a consistent freeze expected. 

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