Health Risks of Extreme Cold: Know When to Get Help1
Seek help if you experience any of the following symptoms of cold illness:
Symptoms/signs include: shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling/uncoordinated movements, memory loss, slurred speech, drowsiness.
Symptoms/signs include white/grayish skin area, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy, or numbness.
Things You Can Do to Protect Yourself1
Prepare for extreme cold events every winter - it’s always a possibility in Ontario. There are numerous steps you can take both before and during this type of event:
- Stay in heated buildings as much as possible (your home, friend or family’s place, public buildings such as malls, libraries, etc.).
- Dress appropriately when going outside (multiple layers of loose fitting clothes, toques, mittens, etc.) and cover up all exposed skin since, in extreme cold, frostbite can occur within minutes.
- Drink warm fluids but avoid caffeinated or alcoholised beverages, as they cause your body to lose heat more rapidly.
- Avoid strenuous exercise while out in the cold as much as possible.
- Know the weather forecast, and avoid travelling when extreme weather is predicted.
- Prepare your home and car for winter.
What can I do to help others when a cold alert is issued?
The Health Unit advises local agencies that provide shelter and assistance to homeless people to prepare for an increase in demand for their services when cold alerts are issued. Members of the public who would like to help are asked to drop off donations of 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
Visit the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s web page to learn more about how to prepare your home and car for winter.
Call Telehealth Ontario for free advice from a Health Professional, 24/7, at:
- 1-866-797-0000 or TTY at 1-877-797-0007
For pet care information, please visit the London Animal Care Centre website or call:
Please note: Where indicated, the source of the information on this web page is the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. © Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2008.