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January 6, 2014: The Acting Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Franklin Warsh, has issued a COLD WEATHER ALERT for Elgin County. Based on the Environment Canada forecast, air temperatures are predicted to fall to -25° Celsius and persist for the next two days with extreme wind chills from minus 35 to minus 40 tonight and Tuesday morning.

Extreme caution is advised for people heading outdoors. Exposed skin may freeze in less than 5 minutes. This 2nd Cold Weather Alert for 2014 will be in effect until Thursday, January 9th, when daytime temperatures are forecast to moderate.

The residents of Elgin County should take precautions during this cold weather alert. Overexposure to cold may result in hypothermia, which occurs when a person's body temperature drops below normal. Normal body temperature ranges from 36.1 to 37.8° Celsius (97 to 100° Fahrenheit).

Symptoms of hypothermia may include:

  • pale skin
  • lethargy
  • confusion and hallucinations
  • In the initial stages a person may shiver considerably, but as their body temperature drops, shivering may also decrease

In a severe case of hypothermia a person may display the following symptoms:

  • the person is unconscious
  • breathing is shallow
  • pulse is irregular and hard to detect
  • If someone is found with these symptoms, immediate emergency medical treatment is necessary to prevent coma or death.

If you suspect someone may be suffering from hypothermia:

  • seek medical attention immediately
  • if possible, move the person to a warm area and dress them in warm clothing
  • offer warm water, juice or milk
  • do not offer alcohol or hot drinks

To avoid hypothermia or frostbite people are advised to:

  • dress warmly; layer clothing
  • wear a hat - 30% of body heat escapes through the head
  • avoid alcohol
  • drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration (please note that drinks containing caffeine can dehydrate)
  • limit outdoor activity

Symptoms of frostbite include:

  • skin turning red, blue or a gray/white
  • pain, numbness and stiffness, especially in fingers, toes, ears and nose which are most susceptible

If you suspect frostbite:

  • warm the affected area next to warmer skin or immerse in warm, not hot water
  • do not rub the area; re-warming may take 30-60 minutes
  • seek emergency medical treatment for a severe, blistering case of frostbite

What the Public Can Do During a Cold Weather Alert

Members of the public can help by checking on elderly and handicapped neighbours to ensure they are not experiencing any difficulties related to cold temperatures and to call Emergency Services for help if needed.

Children to be dressed for cold walk to school tomorrow

Monday, January 6, 2014: Environment Canada is forecasting temperatures to fall to -25°C and to persist for the next two days with extreme wind chills from -35 to -40 tonight and Tuesday morning.

If there is not a significant accumulation of snow overnight and if all buses are running tomorrow morning, schools are expected to be open. However, with extreme cold temperatures expected to persist for the next two days, parents may choose to keep their children at home. For those children who will be going to school, parents are urged to dress them warmly, ensuring all skin is covered. Children will be supervised indoors 15 minutes before the start of school. This supervision, as well as elementary students' breaks, will be indoors on Tuesday.

The staff at My Big Yellow Bus will continue to carefully monitor conditions. Any decisions to delay or cancel service will be posted online at www.mybigyellowbus.ca between 6 and 6:30 a.m. Parents are asked to go to www.tvdsb.ca or their school website and to listen to local radio reports on Tuesday morning for further updates.

The following are cautions and tips from our regional health units for those who will be going outside or sending children outside in these cold temperatures:

Over-exposure to cold may lead to complications such as frostbite, particularly in the extremities (finger and toes) or any exposed skin, which may turn red, blue or a gray/white. Individuals may also experience pain, numbness and stiffness.

If you suspect frostbite, warm the affected area by placing it next to warmer skin or immerse in warm, but not hot, water. Do not rub the affected area. Seek emergency medical treatment for severe cases.

Hypothermia occurs when body temperature drops below 35°C, affecting the ability to think clearly and move well. Anyone found with these symptoms requires immediate emergency medical treatment. If you suspect hypothermia, call 911.

All parents are urged to read the weather advisories issued by local health units and use discretion with regard to travel to and from school tomorrow.

London District Catholic School Board schools are expected to be open tomorrow,(Tuesday) after a snow day on Monday. Please monitor local media and the Board website (www.ldcsb.on.ca) for confirmation in the morning. Parents should also monitor the schol bus situation. Any decisions on delays or cancelation of bus service will be posted online at www/mybigyellowbus.ca by 6:30 a.m.

Special precautions will be taken at the schools to deal with the frigid temperatures expected for the next few days.

The Medical Officer of Health has issued Middlesex-London's second Cold Weather Alert of 2014. In addition to the Wind Chill Warning currently in effect for the area, the latest Environment Canada forecast calls for low air temperatures to drop to -25 degrees C, with wind chills that could dip to close to -40° C. The alert will continue through the afternoon of Thursday, January 9th, when daytime low temperatures are expected to rise above -15 degrees C.

"When you combine the very cold temperatures we're expecting over the next few days with high wind chill values, the result is conditions that can have dramatic effects on health," says Iqbal Kalsi, Environmental Health Manager at the Middlesex-London Health Unit. "If you're not dressed for the conditions and if you don't limit your time outdoors, and this goes for people and animals alike, exposed skin can freeze within a few minutes and frostbite and hypothermia can set in quickly."

As a result of the extreme temperatures that are expected throughout the entire area served by the LDCSB, the following measures will be put into effect until Thursday:

  • The Board has asked Principals to be prepared to welcome students into the schools as soon as they arrive in the morning.
  • Outdoor recess and lunch activities will be cancelled and students will be provided with indoor supervision.
  • Parents should ensure children are dressed warmly, with all skin covered, to avoid frostbite.
  • Parents of students who usually walk to school are asked to consider driving them to and from school.

The precautions follow an Emergency Procedures checklist available in each classroom, which includes cold weather actions based on MLHU and Environment Canada criteria.

Parents are asked to monitor alerts from the London-Middlesex, Oxford and Elgin Medical Officers of Health and Environment Canada warnings for the duration of the deep freeze.

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