Environment Canada has again forecast frigid conditions in Muskoka, with wind chill values expected to be near -35°C from early Friday morning through Saturday afternoon.
Cooling temperatures can put everyone at risk of developing cold-related illnesses or injuries, such as frostbite and hypothermia.
The health risks are greater for those who live in marginal housing or are homeless, outdoor workers and sports enthusiasts, the elderly, infants and children, and people with pre-existing medical conditions such as heart or lung disease.
To reduce the risk, avoid exposure to cold by covering exposed skin with a hat, gloves, and scarf, and taking regular breaks from the cold, in warm places whenever possible.
Indoor safety during cold temperatures
- Check to see if smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working. Keep a multipurpose, dry chemical fire extinguisher at home.
- Use a fireplace, wood stove, or other fuel-based heater only if it is properly ventilated to the outside and approved by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC).
- If using a kerosene heater, make sure there is adequate ventilation inside. Do not replace the type of fuel your heater is using.
- Place a heater at least 3 feet or more away from anything that might catch fire (such as curtains, furniture, or bedding). Never cover a space heater or place it on top of furniture or near water. Do not pass the rope under carpets or rugs.
- Do not use extension cords to connect your space heater. This may cause a fire.
- To reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, never use a camp stove, charcoal, or gas grill indoors, in the garage, or near air intakes in your home.
- Do not use a wet generator or heater, as this will increase the risk of electrocution.
- Do not store fuel indoors, as the fumes can ignite.
- Use battery-powered lights or lanterns instead of candles.
Save drinking water
- Keep indoor temperatures warm to prevent water pipes from freezing or rupturing.
- Improve hot air circulation around water pipes by opening kitchen cabinet doors under the kitchen sink. Or insulate any water lines that run along the outer walls.
- Do not use a torch to thaw frozen tubes. Alternatively, slowly defrost the tubes with an electric hair dryer. If you cannot thaw freezing pipes or pipes rupture, use an alternative water source such as bottled water.
Eat and drink wisely
- Eating balanced meals will help you and your family feel warm.
- Drinking fluids that contain alcohol or caffeine causes your body to lose heat more quickly. Instead, drink warm fluids or broths to help maintain your body temperature.
- If you have any special dietary needs, consult your healthcare provider.
- Plan ahead and be prepared – listen for general weather alerts or travel warnings.
- Consider limiting children’s outdoor play when temperatures are between -20°C to -25°C (with or without wind chill) and keep children indoors if temperatures reach -27°C or drop below -27°C Celsius (with or without wind chill). More winter safety advice for your children can be found at Caring for Kids, developed by the Canadian Pediatric Society.
- Wear warm clothes and cover exposed skin. Frostbite can occur in as little as 30 seconds.
- Wear several layers of loose-fitting wool, silk, or polypropylene (these materials retain more heat than cotton).
- Stay dry, western clothes can give the body goose bumps quickly. Excessive sweating also increases heat loss. So when you get too warm, remove some extra layers of clothing.
- Keep moving. Decide when to sit – stand up and move.
- Take cover from the wind – this will reduce exposure to wind chill.
- Drink warm fluids – but not caffeinated or alcohol-containing fluids because they cause the body to lose heat more quickly.
- Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
- Avoid traveling on roads, overpasses, bridges covered with ice, or when visibility is poor.
- Take a mobile phone with you and let someone know where you are going and when you can expect to arrive.
- Keep a winter emergency kit in your car before you leave and bring warm clothes.
- Never pour water on the windshield to remove ice or snow; Shattering may occur.
- Don’t rely on a car to provide enough heat; The car may bake.
Health conditions and symptoms
- Just the skin freezes. Your skin looks yellow or white.
- You may feel a painful stinging or burning sensation.
- Do not rub the area or use direct heat on the area.
- Warm the area slowly with a warm hand or warm heat.
- It can cause serious damage to your hands, feet, and fingers.
- Call your health care provider right away when your skin becomes pale or waxy, there is swelling and blisters, and if you feel numb or in pain.
- Do not rub or massage the area.
- Warm the area slowly with warm compresses or use your body to rewarm the area (eg, use the armpit to warm the hand).
- Try not to walk on frostbitten toes or toes.
- Your body temperature becomes less than 35°C.
- Call your healthcare provider at once when your skin becomes pale (or red for infants); Or when you tremble, become disoriented, find it difficult to walk, speak and/or become weak. Symptoms may be subtle in the elderly.
- Gently remove the wet clothing or move the person to a warm location.
- Use several blankets to slowly warm the person.
- If the person is alert, give them warm drinks (not alcohol).
- Asthma may occur due to the increased chance of respiratory infections during the winter. The air is cooler and drier too.
- Stop the spread of germs by washing your hands.
- Wear a scarf loosened over your mouth and nose. Breathe in through your nose when you are outdoors (this helps warm and humidify the air you breathe in).
- Keep the inhaler near you and in a warm place and use the medication frequently.
For more information about the cold and its effect on your health, visit smdhu.org/extremecold.
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