The Middlesex-London Health Unit has issued a cold weather alert for most of the weekend as nighttime lows are forecast to be well below average.
Environment Canada calls for temperatures to dip overnight Friday to a low of –17 C — well below the average low of –10 C this time of year — with a wind chill of –27 C.
Saturday, Environment Canada is calling a daytime high of –12 C. Temperatures are expected to fall to a low of –18C overnight into Sunday, with a wind chill of –25C. Daytime highs Sunday are expected to hit –5C, when the health unit cold alert ends.
Cold weather alerts are issued when temperatures drop below –15 C or when Environment Canada calls for a wind chill –20 C or lower.
Health officials are warning residents to be mindful of frostbite and hypothermia. Those who plan to be outside this weekend are urged to take precautions and dress appropriately.
“The potential damage that winter weather can do to the body shouldn’t be underestimated,” David Pavletic, environmental health manager at the health unit, said in a statement.
“It is going to be very important, over the next day or so, to dress accordingly and cover any exposed skin to prevent cold-related injuries such as frostbite.”
Frostbite can occur when skin is overexposed to the cold, causing symptoms that include skin turning red, blue or in late stages, grey and white, and pain, numbness and stiffness develop in the fingers, toes, ears and nose.
Health officials say anyone who suspects frostbite should warm the affected area with warmer skin or immerse it in warm — but not hot — water. Do not rub the affected area and seek medical care for severe cases.
Hypothermia, which happens when a person’s body temperature drops, involves symptoms of pale skin, drowsiness, confusion and hallucinations. Shivering indicates early stages of hypothermia, but can cause body temperatures to drop further.
Losing consciousness, shallow breathing and a pulse that is irregular or hard to find will happen in severe cases. If these occur, officials say emergency medical care is necessary to prevent a coma or death.
Calvi Leon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press