By Liny Lamberink, AM980
Temperatures are expected to drop below -15 degrees Friday night, and that’s prompted the Middlesex-London Health Unit to issue its first cold weather alert for 2017.
The alert comes into place overnight, and is expected to last into the morning and throughout Saturday when temperatures reach a chilly daytime high of just -10 degrees.
Public Health Inspector Randy Walker says there hasn’t been a lot of cold weather so far this winter, and people may not be prepared for the frosty forecasted temperatures.
“Temperatures like those we’ll have tonight have the potential to damage exposed skin and could lead to hypothermia if you aren’t dressed accordingly,” Walker explains.
The Health Unit says symptoms of hyperthermia include pale skin, lethargy, confusion, and hallucinations; an individual may also shiver during the early stages, but that could decrease as body temperature continues to drop.
In severe cases where breathing becomes shallow and pulse becomes irregular and hard to detect, Walker says individuals need emergency medical treatment to prevent coma or death.
Walker says fingers, toes, ears, and noses are also especially susceptible to frostbite, which can be detected by skin that turns either red, blue, or gray/white.
Frostbite symptoms also include pain, numbness, and stiffness – and Walker says it’s important not to rub the affected area but warm it slowly in warm (not hot) water, or by holding the affected area next to warmer skin.
In the case of severe and blistering frostbite, Walker says people should seek emergency medical treatment.
The Health Unit is also advising shelters to prepare for an increase in demand for their services, and encouraging the public to drop off donations and non-perishable foods, blankets, sleeping bags, and warm clothing to the following locations:
Men’s Mission and Rehabilitation Centre, 459 York Street
The Salvation Army Centre of Hope, 281 Wellington Street
Unity Project, 717 Dundas Street