Extreme Cold and Hypothermia

Extreme cold means the outdoor temperatures drop below the average for that time of year. Exposure to cold temperatures can cause serious and sometimes even life-threatening health problems. Although everyone is at risk, some groups are more vulnerable including:

  • Children and infants;
  • Seniors;
  • Homeless people;
  • Outdoor workers;
  • Skiers/ice skaters;
  • People living in poorly insulated homes or without power; and,
  • People with asthma.

Health effects of extreme cold exposure: Hypothermia

Hypothermia occurs when the body’s temperature is less than 35 degrees C(95 degrees F). Symptoms  of hypothermia may include:

  • Shivering;
  • Confusion;
  • Weakness;
  • Mumbling;
  • Low energy; and,
  • Pale skin colour.

If someone has hypothermia, remove their wet clothing and bring them to a warm place. Warm the person gradually with several layers of blankets and seek medical attention immediately.

Here are some general tips to help keep warm during extremely cold weather periods:

  • Cover exposed skin;
  • Wear a hat, scarf and gloves and wear clothes in layers;
  • Keep children indoors if the temperature falls below -25 degrees C(-13 degrees F), or if the wind chill is -28 degrees C(-18 degrees F) or greater;
  • Drink warm fluids, avoiding beverages with caffeine and alcohol;
  • Find shelter from the wind to reduce wind exposure; and,
  • Listen to the weather forecast and plan ahead accordingly: