The Herald Bulletin

January 11, 2014

Editorial: Don't be fooled -- cold weather, snow can kill


The Herald Bulletin

---- — Jordan Michael Hutton died in the brutal cold Monday after being dropped off by a friend near his rural Anderson home.

He was 23 years old.

It may be that he was like most of us: We've lived in Indiana for a long time and have faced down many a cold spell and many a snow storm. In the end, we believe we will always survive.

Folks who are middle-aged or older often scoff at the errant sense of immortality that misleads many teens and young adults. No doubt, the young often take unnecessary risks, flaunt their health and fail to prepare for life-threatening situations.

But, when it comes to the weather, a false feeling of invulnerability isn't limited to the young.

That leads us to another local tragedy, brought on by the heavy snow (about 12 inches in some spots of Madison County) and extreme cold (down to about minus-15 degrees, with a wind chill below minus-40) of early week.

David Garrett, 66, died Sunday after clearing snow outside his Anderson home. A former Anderson University football player, he was in good health and had been outside that day using his snow blower for a couple of hours. He went back outside after dinner to sweep snow from some bushes. And he never made it back in.

Thousands like Garrett all across Madison County didn't let the cold or the snow stop them from taking care of business outdoors during Winter Storm Ion. Emergency service workers, livestock farmers and others, of course, have no choice but to be outside for stretches during bad weather.

We're a hearty bunch, the people of Madison County, and we like to think that we can handle whatever Mother Nature brews up.

But the tragic stories of Hutton and Garrett caution us to heed health and medical experts when they implore us not to expose our bodies to extreme cold and not to work vigorously in wintry conditions.

At least 21 deaths nationally have been blamed on Winter Storm Ion. Two occurred right here in our little county.

The next time you shovel snow, stop after a few minutes and just listen to your heart. It will be beating fast. Snow is heavier than you think; shoveling demands more energy than you think. And the extreme cold causes extra stress on your body that you might not notice.

Hopefully, the Madison County area won't have another episode this winter like the Arctic blast of early January. But it will be cold most days, and we will get more snow.

When you go outside to work, stop for a moment and remember Jordan Hutton and David Garrett — and then ask yourself how hard and long you should be working in the cold, and whether you are truly prepared to face the elements.

In summary The tragic deaths of Anderson's Jordan Hutton and David Garrett caution us to heed health and medical experts when they implore us not to expose our bodies to extreme cold and not to work vigorously in wintry conditions.