While millions descended on Washington D.C.’s National Mall today for President Barack Obama’s inauguration, they probably didn’t expect to suffer symptoms more common to mountaineers on distant peaks: The Red Cross reports that they’ve taken in scores of people to treat them for hypothermia.
Temperatures in the nation’s capital weren’t expected to get above freezing today, and enough people have gone hypothermic that Red Cross relief stations have turned away all but the most serious cases. Clearly, not enough people heeded the lessons of the D.C.-area REI that focused on outfitting visitors for the long, cold hours of Inauguration Day.
Listeners could find many nuggets of inspiration in Obama’s speech—phrases like “we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness,” and “let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back.”
But in between the declarations of hope and pleas for cooperation in the face of an uncertain future, maybe he should’ve included a few lines about classic American virtues like proper winter layering and wearing a hat.
Heading out into a wilder cold than D.C.? Check out BACKPACKER’s guide to Extreme Layering.
Image Credit: Joshua Davis