Cold Weather Health Warning Issued

KFL&A Public Health is encouraging you to dress in layers, cover exposed skin, and avoid strenuous activity outdoors for the next few days.

The health unit has issued another Cold Weather Health Warning with temperatures expected to stay in the negative double digits until Saturday. An Extreme Cold Warning from Environment Canada is also in effect. Cold Weather Warnings are issued by KFL&A Public Health when the temperature is forecast to be -25°C or colder, or when a wind chill of -28°C or colder is forecast, or when extreme weather conditions-blizzard or severe snow storm-are forecast for the KFL&A area by Environment Canada.

Staff remind you that this cold brings an increased risk of hypothermia for people who stay outside for long periods of time without adequate protection.

They also recommend that you:

-Drink warm fluids that do not contain caffeine or alcohol, to prevent dehydration.
-Maintain a heated indoor environment above 20°C; hypothermia can even occur indoors when    temperatures are 16°C (61°F) or lower.
-Avoid outdoor strenuous exercise during cold spells.
-Check frequently on elderly and vulnerable people; ensure they are in a safe and warm environment.
-Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia-know what to do!

The risk of frostbite increases when the wind chill rises.  Early signs include pink or reddish areas that may feel numb.  As frostbite progresses, the affected area will become white and waxy in appearance. If you suspect frostbite, move to a warm area out of the wind and gently re-warm the affected area using your own body heat; the affected area should not be rubbed, as rubbing can cause more damage. Medical help should be sought if the area does not return to normal colour or sensation quickly.

Hypothermia happens when the body is exposed to cold temperatures, and it begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced.  The result is an abnormally low body temperature that can affect brain and muscle function.  Hypothermia can be dangerous as a person may not be aware that it is happening and may not understand that corrective action is necessary.  An adult who stumbles, mumbles and fumbles objects may be suffering from hypothermia.

If hypothermia is suspected, the affected person should be moved to a warm location, and any wet clothing removed.  The individual should be covered with several layers of blankets and offered a warm, non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated drink if he or she is able to swallow.  A person with severe hypothermia may be unconscious and if a pulse can't be found in the neck, 9-1-1 should be called and CPR began immediately.  Knowing what to do is an important part of protecting your health and the health of others. This warning is in effect as long as the extreme weather conditions exist.