Hastings and Prince Edward Counties/ Jan. 20, 2022 – Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is issuing a cold weather health warning to remind residents of Hastings and Prince Edward Counties to take precautions as the temperature drops. Cold temperatures can lead to health complications such as wind burn, frostbite and hypothermia.
A cold weather health warning is issued when the temperature reaches -25°C or lower without wind chill (WC) and -28°C or colder with wind chill.
Cold weather can negatively affect health at even mild temperatures. The risk of negative effects increases as temperatures get colder. While cold weather is a risk for everyone, not everyone is equally susceptible to negative health outcomes. People who are at a higher risk include:
- People experiencing homelessness;
- People living in homes that are poorly insulated (with no heat or power);
- People who work or exercise outside;
- People with certain medical conditions and certain medications*;
- Infants (under 1 year); and
- Seniors (65 years or older).
*Speak with your primary care provider to see how your medical history and/or medications may increase your risk when exposed to the cold.
Those in need of shelter during the cold weather can access warming centres in:
- Bancroft: 103 Newkirk Blvd., open 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.
- Belleville: 60 Bridge St E, open from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.
- Trenton: 85 Dundas Street East, open from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.
Do your best to understand how to identify the health issues that can result from cold weather.
Windburn occurs when the cold wind removes the top layer of oil from the skin causing excessive dryness, redness, soreness and/or itchiness. Windburn can be treated with protective skin care products and lip balm. Do not rub or scratch the skin.
Frostbite occurs during cold weather when blood flow is severely restricted, resulting in poor circulation to the extremities causing numbness, white/greyish skin and/or skin that feels unusually firm or waxy. Frostbite can be treated by warming the body with blankets or body heat, or immersing the body in cool water and slowly increasing the water temperature. Do not rub or massage the skin.
Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature drops. There are three stages of hypothermia:
- Stage 1: Shivering and numbness, quick shallow breathing, tiredness and possible nausea.
- Stage 2: Strong shivering, muscles uncoordinated and movements are slow and laboured. Mild confusion, paleness and blue skin in extremities possible.
- Stage 3: No shivering, trouble thinking clearly, talking and walking, irrational behaviour. Heart may beat fast, but breathing slow. Risk of dying.
Severe cases of hypothermia (Stage 2 and 3) require immediate medical attention. Call 911. For Stage 1 and while waiting for help in Stages 2 and 3: keep warm and dry, keep muscles moving, drink warm sweet liquids, and allow shivering.
Protect yourself from extreme cold with the following tips:
- Whenever possible, wear clothing that will protect you from the cold including warm socks, gloves, hat and scarf;
- Dress in layers with a wind resistant outer layer;
- Keep moving (especially hands and feet) to keep blood flowing and maintain body heat;
- Avoid alcohol before going out in the cold (it can confuse your body into thinking you are not as cold as you are);
- Be up-to-date on the weather conditions, wind chill alerts and extreme weather warnings;
- Consider wearing sunglasses, lip balm and sunscreen (face mask and goggles to protect from windburn); and
- Winterize your home by checking your heating system and sealing all cracks and drafts.
Maureen Hyland, Communications Specialist
About Hastings Prince Edward Public Health
Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is a public health agency that serves the counties of Hastings and Prince Edward from four local offices. We monitor the health of our local population, deliver programs and services within our communities, and help develop healthy public policies. We provide information and support in many areas to help improve the health and well-being of our residents. Together with our communities, we help people become as healthy as they can be. For more information, please visit hpePublicHealth.ca. You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
We invite community partners and residents to share this Media Release with their respective networks.