8 December 2020

Braving the Cold #brrrrr

Winter has come, and here in Canada, there is a risk of encountering extremely cold temperatures. When extremely cold temperatures occur, Environment Canada issues extreme cold warnings. They will also issue warnings when wind chills occur as they create an elevated risk to one’s health. This includes frostbit and hypothermia. While anyone who isn’t dressed warmly is at risk in the cold weather conditions, some are at a greater risk than others for frostbite or hypothermia:
  • homeless people
  • outdoor workers
  • people living in homes that are poorly insulated (with no heat or no power)
  • people with certain medical conditions such as diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, and diseases affecting the blood vessles
  • people taking certain medications including bets-blockers
  • winter sports enthusiasts
  • infants (under 1 year old)
  • seniors (65 years or older)

What Does Frostbite Look Like, How Does it Occur, and How Can I Prevent It?

Frostbite is an injury caused by freezing of the skin and the underlying tissue. Superficial frostbite starts with the skin becoming very cold and red. The reddened skin will start to have white dots in the middle and progressively become larger the longer you are outside. Then skin may start to feel warm (which is a sign of a serious skin involvement).

Frostbite is most common on fingers, toesm nose, ears, cheeks, and the chin. The skin is most vulnerable to frostbite when the weather is cold and windy. To try to prevent frostbite, go imside and take a break if you are getting too cold outside. If you are walking, try to fin a nearby fast food resturaunt, or a convenient store you can pop inot, just to warm up. Cover up all exposed skin on cold days by wearing a hat, neck warmer, balaclava, and gloves. Any ecposed skin poses a risk of you gettin frostbite.

What is Hypothermia, How Does It Occur, What Does It Look Like, and What Can You Do When It Occurs?

Hypothermia is a medical emergency that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat which causes a dangerous drop in body temperature. Hypothermia is usually caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures. The risk of cold exposure increases as the winter months arrive. There are three stages of hypothermia. Stage One: shivering, and reduced circulation. Stage Two: slow, weak pulse, slowed breathing and lack of co-ordination, irritability, confusion, and sleepy behaviour. Advanced Stage: slow, weak, absent respiration and pulse. Individual may lose consciousness. When handling someone who has hypothermia…
  1. Be gentle. When you’re helping a person with hypothermia, handle him or her gently.
  2. Move the individual out of the cold.
  3. Remove any wet clothing.
  4. Cover the person with blankets.
  5. Monitor their breathing.
  6. Provide warm beverages.
  7. Use warm, dry compresses.

What is Windburn?

Windburn occurs when the cold wind removes the top layer of oil from the skin causing excessive dryness, redness, soreness, and itchiness. Althought sunburn and windburn have similar symptoms, windburn IS different.

Protect Yourself From the Extremely Cold Conditions By Following These Tips:

Wear Appropriate Clothing – Always wear the right amount of clothing for the weather. Dress in layers with a wind resistant outer layer. Remember you are always able to remove layers if you are too hot, but you can’t put on layers if you don’t have them. Wear warm socks, gloves, a hat, and a scarf in cold weather. Make sure to put your scarf over your nose to protect that area of your face if it is exceptionally cold outside. You can also opt to wear a neck warmer or balaclava. If you get wet, change into dry clothes as soon as possible. You lose heat faster when you are wet.
There are so many fun winter activities that you can participate in like skiing, snowmobiling, and skating Wear a face mask and goggles if you are partaking in these activities so you can protect your face from frostbite and windburn. Keep your body moving (especially your fingers and toes) to keep your blood circulating so you’re able to maintain your body heat.