by Joan Mays, Manager of Community Health Protection, written January 6, 2014
(Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit) The Leeds Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit would like to remind everyone to take appropriate precautions during the predicted extreme wind chill overnight and tomorrow.
Cold weather can cause very serious health conditions and even death. With a wind chill of -25oC or colder, unprotected skin can freeze in as little as10-30 minutes, and the risk of developing hypothermia is very high. During very cold weather, everyone is at risk, however the elderly, infants and children, people taking certain prescription medications, and people with pre-existing health conditions are in greater danger. There is also an increased risk of hypothermia for outdoor workers and people living without adequate heat or shelter.
During these cold temperatures, the Health Unit strongly encourages the public to check on a neighbour or friend who may be isolated, disabled, or living alone and have a greater risk of suffering cold weather related injuries. The Health Unit also encourages homeless people to get in from the cold.
During cold weather everyone should take the following precautions:
Wear layers of warm dry clothing including a hat, mitts, and a layer to block the wind
Drink warm non-alcoholic beverages
Cover exposed skin surfaces when outdoors
Maintain a heated environment of around 20oC/ 68oF
Be aware of how your medications, or health conditions may increase your risk
Be aware of the early signs of frostbite and hypothermia
Be aware of the dangers of using an oven or space heater as a heating device.
For more information on how to protect yourself during extreme cold visit the Health Unit website at: http://www.healthunit.org or go to http://www.mb.ec.gc.ca/air/wintersevere/index.en.html or http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/guide.asp
For specific cold weather questions call the Health Action Line at 1-800-660-5853 or 613-345-5685.