St. Thomas, Ontario, January 3, 2018 - Throughout the month of December and the
first few days of January, much of Canada has been experiencing bone-chilling cold
temperatures which are expected to continue until at least Sunday.
Elgin St. Thomas Public Health is, therefore, issuing a Cold Weather Statement advising
anyone who spends time outdoors during this cold snap to take precautions. It's
particularly important to dress for the conditions because extremely cold temperatures
can damage exposed skin in a matter of minutes. Put on layers of clothing, wear
a hat, cover the face with a scarf or balaclava, and put on mittens or insulated
gloves as body heat is lost through our heads and extremities. People who work outside
should take frequent breaks indoors. People with housing issues who have to spend
part of their day outside could head for a public space like a library, community
centre or arena to warm up.
Overexposure to extreme cold temperatures can result in frostbite. Frostbitten skin
might turn red, blue, and eventually a gray/white colour. Individuals may also experience
pain, numbness and stiffness, especially in the fingers, toes, ears and nose, which
are most susceptible to the cold. If you suspect frostbite, warm the affected area
by placing it next to warmer skin or immersing it in warm, but not hot, water. The
rewarming process may take up to 60 minutes. Do not rub the affected area as this
may cause more damage to the skin. You should seek emergency medical treatment for
cases of severe, blistering frostbite.
Overexposure to extreme cold temperatures can also result in hypothermia, which
occurs when a person's body temperature drops below normal. Symptoms of hypothermia
include pale skin, extreme loss of energy, confusion and hallucinations. In severe
cases, you may lose consciousness, your breathing becomes shallow and it may be
hard to find your pulse. Anyone with these symptoms requires immediate emergency
care in order to prevent coma and death. If you find someone you think may be suffering
from hypothermia, it's best to call for help. Don't rely on direction from them
about what to do because they may be confused.
Please keep an eye on daily temperature predictions so you can stay safe this winter.
For additional information, please see the Environment Canada website at https://weather.gc.ca/warnings/index_e.html.