Canadian winters can be severe. It is essential to understand how to avoid the serious effects of extreme cold (Health Canada) while continuing to enjoy outdoor activities.
What are the dangers of cold weather?
There are two main health risks related to cold weather: frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite is when the skin and underlying tissues freeze and then die due to loss of oxygen. Hypothermia occurs when the body’s temperature drops below 35°C.
What is wind chill?
Wind chill (Environment Canada) is the result of blowing wind making it feel colder outside than it actually is. This is because the moving air removes heat from the body much faster than still air, despite having no change in temperature.
The Health Unit’s role
The Health Unit supports the Sudbury Homelessness Network (City of Greater Sudbury) in its operation of the Extreme Cold Weather Alert System (City of Greater Sudbury), which notifies shelters and the public through a public service announcement that the temperature is expected to be below -15°C, or -20°C with the wind chill.
Protect yourself against the cold
Listen to the weather forecast:
- Check the Environment Canada weather forecast before going outside.
- Listen for a wind chill warning.
- Dress in layers, with a wind resistant outer layer.
- Wear a hat (a large portion of body heat is lost from the head), mittens or insulated gloves.
- Wear a scarf, neck tube or face mask.
- When the wind chill is high, try to cover as much exposed skin as possible. Your body’s extremities lose heat the fastest (ears, nose, fingers, and toes).
- Wear warm and waterproof footwear.
- When the wind chill is significant, get out of the wind and limit the time you spend outside.
- Remove wet clothing if possible to avoid chills to the body.
- Remove outer layers of clothing or open your coat if you are sweating.
- Walking or running will help warm you by generating body heat, but try to avoid sweating.
- Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
This item was last modified on June 12, 2015