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Hastings and Prince Edward Public Health
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Extreme Cold Weather

Cold Weather Warnings

Environment and Climate Change Canada issues a cold weather health warning when the temperature reaches -25°C or lower without wind chill (WC) or -28°C or lower with wind chill (WC).

Cold Alert Cold Weather Health Warning Cold Weather Health Emergency
Temp: -15°C without WC Temp: -25°C or lower OR
WC: -28°C or colder (Env. Canada)
Temp: -35°C or lower OR
WC: -55°C or colder OR
Cold Weather Warning issued and contributing factors

Extreme cold events put everyone at risk, but health risks are greatest for:

  • Homeless people or people living in homes that are poorly insulated (no heat or power).
  • Outdoor workers and winter sports enthusiasts.
  • People with certain medical conditions such as diabetes or taking certain medications.
  • Infants (under 1 year) and seniors (65 years or older).

Health Complications

Windburn occurs when the cold wind removes the top layer of oil from the skin causing excessive dryness, redness, soreness and/or itchiness. Windburn can be treated with protective skin care products and lip balm. Do not rub or scratch the skin.

Frostbite occurs during cold weather when blood flow is severely restricted, resulting in poor circulation to the extremities causing numbness, white/greyish skin and/or skin that feels firm or waxy. Frostbite can be treated by warming the body with blankets or body heat, or immersing the body in cool water and slowly increasing the water heat. Do not rub or massage the skin.

Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature drops. There are three stages of hypothermia:

  • Stage 1: shivering and numbness, quick shallow breathing, tiredness and possible nausea
  • Stage 2: strong shivering, muscles uncoordinated and movements are slow and laboured. Mild confusion, paleness and blue skin in extremities possible.
  • Stage 3: no shivering; trouble thinking, talking and walking; irrational behaviour. Heart may beat fast, but breathing slow. Risk of dying.

Severe cases of hypothermia (stage 2 and 3) require immediate attention. Call 911.

For stage 1 and while waiting for help: keep warm and dry, keep muscles moving, drink warm sweet liquids, and allow shivering.

Protect Yourself

  • Stay in heated buildings as much as possible (homes or public buildings, e.g. library or mall).
  • Drink warm fluids, but avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, as they cause your body to lose heat more rapidly.
  • If going outside, dress in layers with a wind resistant outer layer and cover all exposed skin. Wear sunglasses, lip balm and sunscreen (face mask and goggles if windburn is a concern).
  • Avoid strenuous exercise outdoors, but stay moving (especially hands and feet) to keep blood flowing and maintain body heat.
  • Be up-to-date on the weather conditions, wind chill alerts and extreme weather warnings before going outdoors or travelling.
  • Have an alternate source of heat at home: wood or propane furnace, or kerosene heater (must be approved for indoor use), generator with several days’ worth of fuel (generators produce toxic gases such as carbon monoxide so should only be used outdoors), electric space heaters with automatic shut-off and non-glowing elements and/or blankets.

Resources

News, Research and Reports RELATED TO: Outdoors

Silver Chain Challenge Begins June 1

PUBLISHED: Thursday May 30, 2019

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Province of Ontario has Declared a Second Provincial Emergency to Address COVID-19 Crisis and Save Lives.  Read more.

Effective Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., the provincial government is issuing a stay-at-home order requiring everyone to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for essential work.

Owner/operators of a businesses, workplaces and/or other community organizations who are unsure of how to adjust operations for COVID-19 are encouraged to visit sector specific guidance regarding provincial lockdown measures at Ontario.ca or call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659. If you are unable to find an answer to your questions or need further guidance, please fill out this web form.

During the provincewide shutdown, no indoor social gatherings are permitted, except with members of the same household (the people you live with). Individuals who live alone and single parents may consider having exclusive, close contact with another household. Outdoor gatherings must be limited to 5 individuals, and proper physical distancing must be maintained.

If you are concerned about potential exposure to a positive case of COVID-19, please be reassured that any contacts of a confirmed case will be contacted directly and monitored by public health.

Low-risk and indirect contacts should self monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the time of potential exposure and seek testing if symptoms develop. Low risk contacts do not need to isolate unless symptoms develop, and can continue to attend school/work/daycare while monitoring for symptoms.