Frostbite Alert

First Frostbite Alert of the Season Issued

Peterborough Public Health has issued the first Frostbite Alert of the season because of forecasted wind chill values of -28 or lower from December 13 to 14. Temperatures are expected to rise above Frostbite Alert criteria during the late evening of Thursday, December 14, 2017

Extreme cold events are a potentially significant health risk and can have a severe impact on the health of vulnerable populations including infants, the elderly, people with circulatory problems, and the marginally housed.  Local social service agencies rely on Peterborough Public Health frostbite alerts to determine if services should be extended or enhanced.

In order to protect the health of people in Peterborough County and City and Curve Lake and Hiawatha First Nations, Peterborough Public Health advises local residents to take the following precautions:

  • Check face and extremities frequently for signs of frostbite. Exposed skin can freeze in as little as 10 to 30 minutes.
  • Consider re-scheduling outdoor recreational activities, especially during the evening. There is a serious risk of hypothermia and frostbite if outdoors for long periods.
  • Use caution when shoveling snow especially for those that have heart, respiratory (breathing) problems or other medical conditions. Snow shoveling is strenuous and can cause an onset of heart or respiratory problems.
  • Check on the elderly or people with disabilities living alone.

What clothing should be worn outdoors?

Always wear clothing appropriate for the weather. Synthetic and wool fabrics provide better insulation. Some synthetic fabrics are designed to keep perspiration away from your body which keep you dry and further reduce your risk.

Here are some useful tips:

  • Dress in layers with a wind resistant outer layer. You can remove layers if you get too warm (before you start sweating) or add a layer if you get cold.
  • Wear warm socks, gloves, a hat and scarf in cold weather. Be sure to cover your nose to protect it.
  • If you get wet, change into dry clothing as soon as possible. You lose heat faster when you’re wet.

Cold related illnesses include:

Hypothermia:
Symptoms/signs include: shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling/uncoordinated movements, memory loss, slurred speech, drowsiness.

Frostbite:
Symptoms/signs include: white/greyish skin area, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy, or numbness.

Increases in other health problems can also be seen, especially for those with other chronic medical conditions such as heart conditions.

While many of us can handle a cold spell, frostbite and other cold weather injuries are a real risk for young infants, the elderly, those with blood circulation conditions, and for people who don’t have stable housing.  Make sure you know the signs and symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia, and check in on anyone you know who may be vulnerable to extreme cold to ensure they are kept warm.