August 31,

Extreme Weather – Cold

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Extreme Weather - Cold

What is it?

Whenever temperatures drop decidedly below normal and as wind speed increases, heat can leave your body more rapidly. These weather related conditions may lead to serious health problems. Extreme cold is a dangerous situation that can cause health emergencies in susceptible people, such as those without shelter or who are stranded, or who live in a home that is poorly insulated or without heat.

Extreme Cold Response Plan

Public Health has adopted a series of cold weather thresholds designed to advise the general public, healthcare providers and community service providers of appropriate measures they can take to reduce the risk of cold weather injuries.

Public Health monitors the forecasted weather conditions from November 1 to April 1.  Notifications of extreme cold will be issued when the forecasted temperature or wind chill may result in an increased risk of frostbite.  Upon learning that a potential cold threshold may be reached, Public Health will activate the Extreme Cold Response Plan (ECRP).  A key objective of the ECRP is to provide health information and education concerning extreme cold weather to both the general public and community partners serving vulnerable populations.

Cold weather injuries, such as frostbite and hypothermia, are preventable.  Most healthy people can tolerate a short period of cold weather if dry and properly attired.  People who are the most vulnerable and at the highest risk of cold weather injuries include: the elderly; infants (under one year); people with chronic physical and mental disabilities; and people who are homeless or marginally housed.

Level Conditions Precautions
Level 1: Frostbite Alert Issued when temperatures are forecasted to be from -27ºC to -38ºC or a wind chill of -27 to -38.

Exposed Skin: can freeze in as little as 10 to 30 minutes
Residents advised to:

  • cover unprotected skin
  • avoid prolonged outdoor exposure
  • drink warm fluids
  • watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia
  • check on neighbours
  • maintain a warm indoor environment (ideally 20C or warmer)
 Level 2: Frostbite Warning Issued when temperatures are forecasted to be from -39ºC to -47ºC or a wind chill of -39 to -47

Exposed Skin: can freeze in as little as 5 to 10 minutes
Residents advised of the core messages above in addition to:

  • reminding children and the elderly to stay indoors
  • reducing time spent outdoors
  • advising the public to check their faces and extremities frequently for signs of frostbite
Level 3: Cold Weather Emergency Issued when temperatures are forecasted to be -48ºC or colder or a wind chill of -48 or colder OR when the temperature is below -27ºC or a wind chill below -27 accompanied by a contributing risk factor such as a power outage, or critical infrastructure failure.

Exposed Skin: can freeze in as little as 5 minutes
Residents advised of the core messages above in addition to:

  • requesting that residents stay indoors
  • ensuring vulnerable individuals are in a warm, safe environment
  • advising the public to check their faces and extremities frequently for signs of frostbite

More about Extreme Cold:

Understanding wind chill
Are you at risk?
Protect yourself

Last modified on Jul 07, 2016