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Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Frigid Winter Temperatures Tonight, More Cold This Week Prompt Cold Alert

With a forecast overnight low of -18°C, and daytime highs of just -15°C for Thursday and Friday, the bone-chilling cold is expected to continue late into the week. The Middlesex-London Health Unit is issuing a Cold Weather Alert that will be in effect starting tonight and continuing until early Saturday morning. Anyone spending time outdoors this evening, or taking part in winter activities over the next several days is asked to prepare for the conditions.

"If you're planning to spend time outdoors over the next several days, you need to plan ahead and make sure you're dressing for the conditions," says Randy Walker, Public Health Inspector with the Middlesex-London Health Unit. "At these temperatures, the cold can damage exposed skin in a matter of a few minutes, so it is important to cover up and to dress in layers. It's also very smart to wear a hat and insulated gloves or mittens as body heat is lost through our heads and extremities."

It's important to not underestimate the dangers of cold weather. Overexposure may result in hypothermia, which occurs when a person's body temperature drops below normal. Symptoms can include pale skin, lethargy, confusion and hallucinations. Individuals may shiver in early stages of hypothermia, but shivering may decrease as body temperature drops. In severe cases, individuals lose consciousness, their breathing becomes shallow and their pulse becomes irregular and hard to detect. Anyone with these symptoms requires emergency medical treatment in order to prevent coma or death.

Frostbite can also occur in skin that is overexposed to the cold. Symptoms include skin turning red, blue or in later stages, 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 immerse in warm, but not hot, water. Do not rub the affected area, and seek emergency medical treatment for cases of severe, blistering frostbite. The rewarming process may take up to 60 minutes.

The Health Unit is also advising local agencies that provide shelter and assistance to the homeless to prepare for an increase in demand for their services.

If you see someone who is outdoors and in distress due to the cold, contact London CAReS at 519-667-2273, if you feel the situation is a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

Media Contact:

Dan Flaherty
Communications Manager
Middlesex-London Health Unit
519-663-5317 ext 2469 or 519-617-0570
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