Chilly temperatures prompt health unit’s fifth cold weather alert in London

The Middlesex-London Health Unit has issued its fifth cold weather alert of the season, sparked by windchill values Monday morning below -20 C.

With Environment Canada calling for a daytime high of -9 C and an overnight low of -16 C feeling like -24 C with windchill, the public health agency expects its alert to remain in place until Tuesday morning.

“It’s been a cold winter and while a lot of people in London and Middlesex County are taking the steps necessary to stay warm, we still find that there are other folks who don’t take these frigid conditions seriously,” public health inspector Randy Walker said in a statement.

“The best things you can do is cover exposed skin which can be damaged by the biting cold and dress in layers in order to keep your core warm and prevent hypothermia.”

Symptoms of hypothermia can include pale skin, drowsiness, confusion and hallucinations. Shivering may decrease as body temperature drops, and individuals may lose consciousness, experience shallow breathing, or have an irregular or hard-to-detect heartbeat.

These symptoms could lead to a coma or death, and officials say those exhibiting them need emergency medical treatment.

The health unit is also warning about frostbite, where skin exposed to the cold — especially on the fingers, toes, ears and nose — turns red, blue or a gray/white colour in later stages. Officials say it could take up to an hour to rewarm the skin by placing it next to warmer skin or immersing it in warm, but not hot, water. Severe, blistering cases of frostbite need emergency medical attention.

If you see anyone in distress because of the cold, you’re urged to contact London CAReS at 519-667-2273, or, in case of emergency, 911.

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