Cold weather warning: A message from Emergency Services

By Lindsay Advocate

Photo: Ethan Sauve.

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement that snow and bitterly cold temperatures are expected this weekend. Very cold temperatures and moderate winds of 30km per hour gusting to 50km per hour will accompany the snow resulting in wind chill values in the minus 20 to minus 30 range. These very cold wind chills are expected to last into Monday morning.

Here are some tips to help you stay safe during the cold weather:

  • Be responsible for children in your care
  • Check in on the elderly (family, friends and neighbours)
  • Monitor the temperature and limit your time outdoors
  • Bundle up in several layers of loose clothing
  • Cover your ears with a warm hat
  • Wear socks that will keep your feet warm and dry
  • Add supplies to your disaster supply kit, such as rock salt, sand and snow shovels
  • Prepare your home and family
  • It is the responsibility of the homeowner to plan ahead and order fuel for the winter

Wood burning stoves and space heaters

  • Use heating equipment that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory
  • All heaters need space so keep things that can burn such as paper, bedding or furniture at least 1 meter (3 feet) away from heating equipment
  • Start fires with newspaper, kindling or fire starters and never use a flammable liquid such as lighter fluid, kerosene or gasoline
  • Keep the doors of your wood stove closed unless loading or stoking the live fire
  • Supervise children whenever a wood or oil stove or other space heater is being used and use a sturdy metal screen to prevent contact burns, which are more common than flame burns
  • Have a 1 meter (3 feet) “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters
  • If the power goes out, ensure adequate ventilation if you are using alternative heating sources such as kerosene heaters


  • Have a sturdy metal screen on a fireplace
  • Only dry, seasoned wood should be used in fireplaces
  • If you use artificial logs use them according to manufacturer’s recommendations
  • Never burn more than one log at a time
  • Chimneys and vents need to be cleaned at least once a year or as necessary


Frostbite is the most common injury resulting from exposure to severe cold and it usually occurs on fingers, toes, nose, ears, cheeks and chin. If caught early, it is possible to prevent permanent damage. It is important to know that even skin that is protected can be subject to frostbite. Superficial frostbite affects the skin surface, while the underlying tissue remains soft. The skin appears white, waxy or grayish-yellow and is cold and numb. If the condition is allowed to progress to deep frostbite, all layers of the skin are affected and the outcome could be more serious. The skin will become completely numb, blisters may form and eventually the skin tissue dies and turns black. If you suspect frostbite:

  • Get indoors immediately
  • Seek medical attention (9-1-1 or local emergency department)
  • Remove constrictive clothing and jewelry that could prevent circulation
  • Place dry, sterile gauze between toes and fingers to absorb moisture and keep them from sticking together
  • Elevate the affected area to reduce pain and swelling
  • For superficial frostbite, you may also place the affected area in water that is 37 Celsius to 40 Celsius until the tissue softens


Hypothermia occurs when the body’s temperature drops below 35 Celsius. Relentless shivering is an early sign of hypothermia and is beneficial in helping to rewarm the individual.  However, as hypothermia progresses, shivering slows to a stop and the individual will become:

  • Drowsy and confused
  • Have shallow breathing and an irregular heartbeat
  • Slurred speech as well as loss of coordination
  • Ultimately they will become unconsciousness and suffer cardiac arrest (no pulse and lifeless)

Hypothermia first aid treatment

  • Move the individual inside and remove any wet clothing
  • Call 9-1-1 immediately
  • Add blankets, pillows, towels or newspapers beneath and around the person
  • Cover the individual’s head
  • Handle the individual gently to avoid cardiac arrest
  • Keep the individual in a horizontal position
  • Start CPR if the individual becomes lifeless

For snow removal, street lights or other municipal service requests, please complete the Report It form available at or call the municipal after-hours emergency number at 1-877-885-7337.

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