Thursday, May 24, 2018

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Temperatures are expected to fall this evening to reach lows of minus 20-25 degrees Celsius and with winds up to 50 km/hr it will feel colder - more like minus 35-40 degrees Celsius in some areas.

Extreme cold temperatures puts everyone at risk. The risks are greater for young children, older adults, people with chronic illnesses, people working or exercising outdoors, and those without proper shelter.

Normal body temperature is approximately 37 degrees Celsius. When your core body temperature drops by one or two degrees, or your body is exposed to severe cold, it increases your risk of hypothermia.

There are three stages of hypothermia.

Stage 1:  When your body temperature drops, you start shivering, get goose bumps on your skin, and your hands become numb. Your breathing can become quick and shallow and you may feel tired and or sick to your stomach. You may also experience a warm sensation which means your body is entering stage 2 of hypothermia.

Stage 2: Your body temperature has dropped by 2-4 degrees Celsius and your shivering is strong. Muscles are uncoordinated and movements are slow and laboured. You may suffer mild confusion, become pale, and your lips, ears, fingers and toes may turn blue.

Any easy test to check if you have Stage 2 hypothermia: try touching your thumb to your little finger. If you can't, your muscles are not working properly and you're experiencing Stage 2 hypothermia.

Stage 3: If your body temperature drops below 32 degrees Celsius, the shivering will stop but you'll have trouble speaking, thinking, and walking. You may even develop amnesia. When your body temperature drops below 30 degrees Celsius, exposed skin becomes blue and puffy, it will be hard to move your muscles, and your behaviour become irrational. Your heart may be beating quickly but your pulse and breathing will decrease. At this stage you are at risk of dying.

Protect yourself from extreme cold conditions:

Wear appropriate clothing - always wear clothing appropriate for the weather. Synthetic and wool fabrics provide better insulation. Dress in layers with a wind resistant outer layer. Wear warm socks, gloves, a hat and a scarf in cold weather. Put a scarf over your nose to protect it.

On sunny days wear sun glasses, lip balm and sunscreen to protect your skin from UV rays and keep it moisturized to help prevent windburn. Wear a face mask and goggles if you are participating in winter activities.

Pay attention to weather alerts. Environment Canada issues weather alerts to warn you of conditions.

If you are caught in a severe snowstorm or outside in extreme cold conditions, look for shelter. If there are no buildings around, a vehicle, ditch, even a hollow tree can help reduce your chances of frostbite or hypothermia.

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. You may actually feel warm even though you are losing heat.

To learn more about health risks of extreme cold visit www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/healthy-living/your-health/environment/extreme-cold.html#a2.

Remember - if it's too cold for you to stay outside, it's too cold for your pets to stay outside.


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