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William Richard Keatinge

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 05 August 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a1150
  1. Caroline Richmond

    Physiologist who elucidated how to cope with extremes of temperature

    Bill Keatinge, a regular contributor to the BMJ, was an applied physiologist who showed how to prevent deaths from temperature extremes, including being in cold water. Using a combination of epidemiology and experiments on volunteers, he showed that people who lived in very cold or very hot climates were less likely to die of hypothermia or heat stroke because they used appropriate safeguards. Siberians had a lower incidence of deaths from hypothermia than did western Europeans because they wore a dozen or more garments in four or five layers; they also wore hats outdoors and when things got really bad exchanged their anoraks for furs. He showed that elderly people died by getting common diseases from mild cold stress during everyday life in cities and not, as is commonly supposed, at home with inadequate heating. If forced to stay outdoors, Siberians built windbreaks, and he therefore advocated enclosed bus shelters. He showed that labourers working outdoors were less at risk of hypothermia than were their wives.

    He showed that people in hot …

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