Date: May 21, 2019

Mainly cloudy. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h overnight. Low 6.


Environment Canada
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Extreme Cold

This page was reviewed or revised on Thursday, July 2, 2015 8:44 AM

During extreme cold, people most at risk include:

  • infants (under 1 year of age)
  • individuals 65 years of age or older
  • homeless people
  • outdoor workers
  • sport enthusiasts (skiers and ice-skaters)
  • people living in homes that are poorly insulated or without heat
  • people living in homes without power (usually due to weather-related events such as a winter storm)

Ensure to check on elderly or relatives and friends who may need additional assistance to ensure their safety. Cold-related injuries can be avoided by following these cold weather safety tips:

Around your home:

  • Have a well-stocked Winter Home Emergency Supply Kit that includes flashlights, portable radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, bottled water, and non-perishable food.
  • If you lose your heat, seal off unused rooms by stuffing towels in the cracks under the doors. At night, cover windows with extra blankets or sheets.
  • When using alternate heating sources, such as your fireplace, wood stove or space heater, take the necessary safety precautions. Keep a fire extinguisher handy and ensure that everyone knows how to use it properly. Test smoke alarms and Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors. Never use gasoline or charcoal-burning devices such as generators, or grills inside your home, basement, or garage.
  • To keep pipes from freezing, wrap them in insulation. Allow a trickle of warm water to run from a faucet that is farthest from your water meter or one that has frozen in the past. If pipes freeze, remove insulation, open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes.
  • Minimize outside activities, particularly the elderly and very young. Also consider your pets.
  • Know the signs of hypothermia and frost bite.

Overexposure to cold can be hazardous, even life-threatening. Hypothermia, which can strike in any season, occurs when the body temperature drops below the normal range between 36.1°C and 37.8°C (97°F - 100°F). Symptoms may include pale skin, lethargy, confusion, excessive shivering and hallucinations.

If someone is suffering from hypothermia:

  • Seek immediate medical attention.
  • Move person to a warm area, if possible; dress in warm clothing.
  • Offer warm water, juice or milk.
  • Do not offer alcohol or hot drinks.

Frostbite can occur in skin that is overexposed to cold temperatures. Symptoms of frostbite include skin turning red, blue, or a grey/white colour. Individuals may also experience pain, numbness and stiffness, especially in fingers, toes, ears and nose.

If you suspect frost bite:

  • Warm the skin next to the affected area or immerse in warm water. Do not use hot water.
  • Do not rub the affected area.
  • Seek immediate medical help.
  • Re-warming may take up to 60 minutes.

Avoid hypothermia or frost bite:

  • Check the weather forecast.
  • Dress warmly. Wear several layers of warm, loose-fitting clothes.
  • Protect your head and neck with a hat, scarf or hood: 30% of body heat escapes through the head.
  • Protect your face with a mask.
  • Wear wool socks and well-fitted boots that cover the ankles.
  • Wear mittens. They protect hands better than gloves.
  • Outermost layer of clothing should protect you from the wind.
  • Stay dry. Wet clothing chills the body. Remove outer layers or open your coat if sweating.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • Limit outdoor activity.
  • Know your limits. Children, seniors and those with circulation problems are more susceptible to cold.

For more information view the section on Severe Cold Weather.