Tips from the Health Unit on surviving extreme cold weather
January 07, 2015

Environment Canada has issued an Extreme Cold Warning notification for Simcoe County and Muskoka. In response, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has shared some great tips with the college on how to stay safe and warm while outdoors:

  • Cover exposed skin (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)
  • Wear gloves or mittens, and a scarf to protect the chin, lips, nose and cheeks
  • Wear sunglasses, lip balm and sunscreen to protect your skin from UV and keep it moisturized to help prevent windburn
  • Wear a face mask and goggles if participating in winter activities such as skiing, snowmobiling and skating to protect your face from frostbite and windburn
  • Keep children indoors if the temperature falls below -25 Celsius, or if the wind chill is -28 Celsius or lower
  • Drink warm fluids – but not caffeinated or alcoholic beverages as they cause your body to lose heat more rapidly
  • Avoid alcohol. Consuming alcohol before you go out in the cold may increase your risk of hypothermia because it increases blood flow to the extremities of the body
  • Wear clothes in layers to include an inner layer, a middle layer and an outer layer that is wind resistant
  • Take shelter from the wind to help reduce wind chill exposure

Always be alert for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. If you experience these symptoms when exposed to the cold, move indoors, begin warming and seek medical attention:

  • Respiratory: shortness of breath, wheezing and cough
  • Cardiovascular: chest pain and arrhythmia
  • Circulation: colour change of fingers and toes, pain, numbness and tickling sensation in extremities
  • Muscle: pain, stiffness, swelling, restricted movement, weakness
  • Skin: itching, pale

For more information visit www.simcoemuskokahealth.org or call 1.877.721.7520 to speak with a health professional.