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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Temperatures to Drop Overnight as Windchill Values Make First Blast of Winter Feel Even Colder

Winter’s mild start is taking a sharp cold turn tonight as the mercury and wind chill values drop, creating conditions approaching the Middlesex-London Health Unit’s threshold for a Cold Weather Alert. Environment Canada’s forecast is calling for an overnight low of -14°C and wind chill values that will drop from -9 in the evening to a frigid -20 by Friday morning. Though forecast temperatures do not meet the MLHU’s threshold for issuing a Cold Weather Alert, the Health Unit is reminding anyone who will be spending time outdoors this evening, or taking part in winter activities, to prepare for the conditions.

“A lot of people tend to underestimate the cold. You don’t have to look too hard to find those who don’t dress in layers, don’t wear boots, don’t cover exposed skin or wear gloves and a warm hat,” says Randy Walker, Public Health Inspector with the Middlesex-London Health Unit. “If you have to go out tonight, plan ahead and dress for the conditions. Exposure to the kind of cold we’re expecting can have negative health consequences like frostbite and hypothermia.”

Hypothermia happens when a person’s internal body temperature drops below normal. Symptoms can include pale skin, drowsiness, confusion and hallucinations. While individuals may shiver in the early stages of hypothermia, 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 uncovered skin that is overexposed to the cold, especially in damp and windy conditions. Symptoms include skin turning red, blue or in later stages, a gray/white colour. Individuals may 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 re-warming 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 tonight.

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. To view a list a list of warming centres in the City of London, please visit www.london.ca.

Media Contact:

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