(Source: Region Niagara website)
Feb. 11 – An extreme cold weather alert is in effect for the Niagara region.
Residents are Reminded to Protect their Health
- Stay in heated buildings as much as possible
- Dress appropriately and cover exposed skin – Wear gloves, mittens and a scarf to protect the chin, lips, and cheek. Exposed skin can become frostbitten in 30 seconds
- Wear a Hat – Up to 40 per cent of body heat loss can occur through the head
- The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends keeping children indoors if the temperature falls below -25 C, or if the wind chill is -28 C or greater
- Drink warm fluids but avoid caffeinated or alcoholised beverages, as they cause your body to lose heat more rapidly.
- Wear clothes in layers: inner layer, middle layer, and outer layer
- Keep moving. Limit time sitting – stand up and move around
- Take shelter from the wind – this can reduce wind chill exposure
- Use caution when shovelling snow, especially for those that have heart, respiratory (breathing) problems or other medical conditions. Snow shovelling is strenuous and can cause an onset of heart or respiratory problems.
- Check on neighbours who may be at risk
Health Risks of Extreme Cold
The following groups are at risk during a cold weather alert:
- Infants (under 1 year)
- People 65 years of age or older
- People without permanent shelter
- Outdoor workers
- Sport enthusiasts (skiers, ice skaters)
- People living in homes that are poorly insulated or without heat
- People living in homes without power
Know Symptoms and When to Get Help
Symptoms/signs include: shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling/uncoordinated movements, memory loss, slurred speech, drowsiness
Symptoms/signs include white/grayish skin area, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy or numbness
Consult a healthcare provider if you experience any of the above symptoms.
Why does Public Health issue Cold Weather Alerts?
Alerts ensure homeless persons and other members of the community vulnerable to the effects of extreme winter weather are protected during the cold spell. A voluntary network of agencies region-wide coordinates resources, locates shelter spaces, and transports those vulnerable to exposure, if necessary.
Extreme Cold Weather Criteria
- Temperatures fall below -15 C
- When weather conditions are severe enough to warrant alerting the community to the risks involved with prolonged exposure to the outdoors (blizzard, wind chill warning)