The U.S. Department of Health and Human services released a statement on Monday warning about the potential health problems connected with attending Barack Obama’s upcoming inauguration. The HHS is particularly concerned with the potential health risks of so many people being outside in the cold weather for extended periods of time.
The HHS reports that local medical personnel will be partnering with the American Red Cross to set up 50 medical aid stations throughout the area where the inauguration will be taking place to help alleviate the stress on emergency personnel. The U.S. government is also planning to open up many of the museums and government buildings in the area of the inauguration so that people can go inside to warm up if the weather becomes too intense.
Various media outlets are reporting that as many as 4 million people may attend Obama’s inauguration ceremony next Tuesday. The temperature in Washington D.C. during January is typically between 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit. Although the weather predictions don’t seem to be discouraging many potential onlookers, even the most hardcore Obama fan may find that it’s hard to keep a smile plastered on their face if that winter chill starts to creep in on them.
What the HHS Recommends
The Department of Health and Human Services is warning inauguration attendees to prepare for the cold weather by dressing in loose fitting clothing, wearing hats and gloves at all times, and bringing extra socks to change into in case their first pair becomes damp. Many who are not used to cold weather may make the mistake of wearing breathable fabrics like cotton close to their skin under layers of heavier clothing. Fabrics like cotton tend to let body heat out and may quickly become damp with perspiration. The HHS is also suggesting that attendees prepare for potentially wet weather with water-resistant clothing to reduce the risk of hypothermia. They warn that people planning to attend the inauguration may have to walk long distances or stand for extended periods of time in the cold, and should bring plenty of water with them to stay hydrated and other non-caffeinated beverages to avoid excessive perspiration.
Extreme Inauguration Weather
It may sound silly to have to warm people to wear gloves and hats on a cold day in Washington D.C., but Presidential historians know that bundling up for an inauguration is no joke. William Henry Harrison was sworn into office on a cold and blustery day in 1841. Harrison spoke for nearly two hours in the 48 degree weather without a hat or even an overcoat. A month later, he was dead from pneumonia.
The coldest inauguration in recorded history took place on January 21, 1985 when President Ronald Reagan was being sworn in for his second term. The temperature fluctuated between a low of -7 degrees below zero and a high of 17 degree Fahrenheit. Strangely enough, Reagan’s first inauguration in 1981 was the warmest on record, with a noon time temperature of 55 degrees.
The first outdoor inauguration was held in 1817 when James Monroe was sworn into office. Weather reports from the day state that Monroe’s inauguration was “warm and sunny,” and estimates that the temperature was about 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Whatever the forecast for Obama’s inauguration, it should be a remarkable day in many aspects. Most Americans feel like we’ve been out in the cold for eight years already, so a few more hours won’t hurt us any.
National Weather Service: