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Cold Weather Warning issued for South Frontenac, Tamworth, Sydenham

Photo by Sydney Rae.

Environment Canada has issued an Extreme Cold Warning for Tamworth, Sydenham, and South Frontenac, with a prolonged period of very cold wind chills expected.

Environment Canada is forecasting that wind chill values will near minus 30, with minimum temperatures near minus 20 degrees Celsius, on Thursday morning and then again on Thursday night and into Friday morning. In an advisory, Environment Canada said it expects that temperatures and wind chill values will temporarily moderate on Thursday afternoon before dropping again in the evening.

“Cold temperatures in combination with brisk northwest winds will lead to wind chill values between minus 30 and minus 35 Thursday morning,” Environment Canada advised. “Wind chill values are expected to moderate through the day Thursday but may drop to near minus 30 Thursday night into Friday morning once again.”

“Extreme cold puts everyone at risk,” the national weather service warned. “Risks are greater for young children, older adults, people with chronic illnesses, people working or exercising outdoors, and those without proper shelter.”

With Environment Canada’s forecast calling for wind chill temperatures below -30°C in Tamworth, Sydenham, and South Frontenac, KFL&A Public Health also issued a Cold Weather Health Warning starting Thursday morning and ending Friday morning.

“Cold Weather Health Warnings are issued through the media 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 for the KFL&A region by Environment Canada,” the local public health unit said.

“When the temperature drops below -25°C or the wind chill is below -28°C, children and seniors should take precautions to avoid the effects of the cold, or be kept indoors to avoid cold injuries,” KFL&A Public Health continued.

“Very cold weather brings an increased risk of hypothermia for people who stay outside for long periods of time without adequate protection,” KFL&A Public Health said. “Overexposure to cold temperatures can result in severe injury. People at greatest risk from cold injuries include infants, the elderly, homeless, outdoor workers, recreation enthusiasts and people who consume excess alcohol.”

The Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Piotr Oglaza, recommends that residents take the following actions to prevent cold injuries, such as hypothermia and frostbite:

  • Wear several layers of clothing and make sure that the outer layer protects you from wind and wetness.
  • Cover exposed skin (with hats, mittens, face mask) to protect against frostbite.
  • 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

The following is information from KFL&A Public Health on ways to recognize and treat frostbite and hypothermia:

Frostbite

Frostbite is an injury to the skin that is caused by freezing. 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

Hypothermia occurs 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.

Ted Hsu for MPP
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