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An extreme cold warning has been issued by Environment Canada for today.

Canadian winters can be severe. It’s important to learn how to prepare for cold conditions and to avoid the potentially serious health effects of extreme cold exposure.

Who is at risk

Anyone who isn't dressed warmly is at risk, but some are more vulnerable to frostbite and hypothermia:

  • Infants and young children
  • The elderly
  • Outdoor workers
  • People with chronic medical conditions or underlying infections
  • People taking certain medications (including beta blockers)
  • Winter sport enthusiasts
  • Homeless persons and those lacking shelter, proper clothing, or food

How to prepare for cold weather

  • Listen to the weather forecast.
  • Dress warmly and wear appropriate clothing.
  • Find shelter.
  • Stay dry.
  • Keep moving.
  • Prepare your home by doing regular maintenance.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.

Health risks of extreme cold

Frostbite

  • Can occur when temperatures drop below zero.
  • Can cause permanent damage (including loss of limbs) if not treated immediately.
  • Risk increases as the wind chill drops. At a wind chill of -28ᵒC, exposed skin can freeze in 10 minutes.

Symptoms

The skin:

  • Initially starts to appear yellow or white but still feels soft to the touch
  • Tingles or burns
  • May turn pale, waxy, and hard to the touch, or go numb as frostbite gets more severe

At the first signs of frostbite:

  1. Protect the exposed skin.
  2. Get out of the cold.
  3. Warm the skin gradually using body heat (do not rub).
  4. Once warm, do not re-expose affected area to the cold.

Seek medical attention if the frostbite is serious (pale, waxy skin that is hard to the touch; affected area is numb).

Hypothermia

  • Occurs when the core body temperature drops too much to function normally.
  • Can lead to death. As the body loses heat, organs begin to shut down.

Signs of hypothermia include:

  • Numbness, shivering, confusion, weakness
  • Lips, ears, fingers, toes or other extremities turn blue
  • Mumbling, stumbling, and/or fumbling

How to treat hypothermia

  • Severe cases require immediate medical attention; call 9-1-1.

While waiting for help to arrive:

  • Find shelter.
  • Keep muscles moving.
  • Remove wet clothing and gradually warm the person.
  • Use warm blankets/dry clothing or reheat using skin-to-skin contact with another person.
  • Drink warm, sweet liquids.
  • Don't fight shivering, this is one of the ways your body increases its core temperature.
  • If the person is unconscious lay them down. Avoid shaking them or handling them roughly as they may have an arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).

More information:

Our Mount Forest office and clinics will be closed today, Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015 due to a facilities issue. For further information, please call 1-800-265-7293.

Our offices and clinics will be closed on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015 for the Family Day holiday. Regular services resume Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015.

Are you interested in making North Wellington a more youth-engaged community? Join the North Wellington Coalition for Youth Resiliency in an all-community conversation to identify the needs of our youth. We want to hear from you – the community experts.

NORTH FOR YOUTH

All Community Conversation

  • Saturday, February 21, 2015
  • 9:00-3:00 pm
  • Kenilworth Public School – Box 40, 7478 Sideroad 7 W, Kenilworth, N0G 2E0
  • Registration starts at 8:30 am
  • Lunch provided

Please register here: http://www.whoozin.com/WR4-QHV-VDHM

Contact:
Alison Vasey
Community Youth Resiliency Worker
1-800-265-7293 ext. 7603
avasey@mountforestfht.com

Twitter: @youthnorthwelly

Facebook: www.facebook.com/NWCYR

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