A mature woman is enjoying a walk on a hiking trail through a forest during a snowstorm.

This Version Posted: January 25, 2023

Winter weather has arrived in the HKPR area. Do you know the signs of hypothermia, and what to do if you get frostbite? Read on to make sure you’re ready for cold weather!


1. Listen to the weather forecast
  • Check the Environment Canada weather forecast before going out.
  • Listen for a wind chill warning. Warnings are based on local climate and are issued when significant wind chills are expected.
  • Visit Environment Canada’s Weather and Meteorology website: http://ec.gc.ca/meteo-weather/
2. Plan ahead
  • Develop a cold weather safety plan to ensure that safety concerns are addressed when it’s very cold, or when the wind chill is significant. For example, schools could hold recess indoors, outside workers could schedule warm-up breaks, and those involved in winter recreation could reduce the amount of time they spend outdoors.
3. Dress warmly
  • Dress in layers, with a wind resistant outer layer.
  • When it is cold, wear a hat, mittens, or insulated gloves. Keep your face warm with a scarf, neck tube or facemask.
  • Wear warm and waterproof footwear. When it is very cold, or when the wind chill is significant, cover as much exposed skin as possible. Your body’s extremities, such as the ears, nose, fingers, and toes lose heat the fastest.
4. Seek shelter
  • When the wind chill is significant, get out of the wind and limit the time you spend outside.
5. Stay dry
  • Wet clothing chills the body rapidly.
  • Remove outer layers of clothing or open your coat if you are sweating.
6. Keep active
  • Walking or running will help warm you by generating body heat.
7. Be aware
  • Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia (see below).
  • Some people are more susceptible to the cold, particularly children, the elderly and those with circulation problems.
  • Check on elderly relatives and neighbours to ensure they are warm enough and have sufficient supplies, particularly when the weather is cold or snowy. They might not feel comfortable going outside to shop and may require food, medications, and other supplies.
  • The use of alcohol, tobacco and certain medications will increase your susceptibility to cold.

Being unprepared for cold weather conditions can cause some of the following injuries so get prepared and note some of ‘what to do’ tips below to keep you and your family safe this cold weather season…

Hypothermia
  • Being cold over a prolonged period can cause a drop in body temperature
  • Shivering, confusion, and loss of muscular control (e.g., difficulty walking) can occur.
  • It can progress to a life-threatening condition where shivering stops or the person loses consciousness. Cardiac arrest may occur.

What to do:

  • Get medical attention immediately.
  • Lay the person down and avoid rough handling, particularly if the person is unconscious.
  • Get the person indoors.
  • Gently remove wet clothing.
  • Warm the person gradually and slowly, using available sources of heat.
Frostbite
  • A more severe condition, where both the skin and the underlying tissue (fat, muscle, bone) are frozen.
  • Skin appears white and waxy and is hard to the touch.
  • No sensation – the area is numb or tingling.

What to do:

  • Frostbite can be serious and can result in amputation. Get medical help!
  • Do not rub or massage the area.
  • Do not warm the area until you can ensure it will stay warm.
  • Warm the area gradually; use body heat, or warm water (40°C to 42°C). Avoid direct heat which can burn the skin.

To learn more about how to prepare for a range of emergencies, visit GetPrepared.ca or follow them on Twitter @Get_Prepared.

*Sited from Government of Canada Website: Seven steps to cold weather safety (getprepared.gc.ca), Date modified: 2018-02-21.

HKPR District Health Unit shares information regarding area warming rooms and more cold weather information on our social media platforms so check out our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts for ongoing updates. You can also check out your local municipal website for more information:

City of Kawartha Lakes

County of Haliburton

Northumberland County

For more information you can also check of the following websites:

Ontario – Weather Conditions and Forecast by Locations – Environment Canada

Public Weather Alerts for Canada – Environment Canada

Wind chill and cold weather – Canada.ca

Cold-Related Emergencies: Staying Warm and Safe in Canadian Winters – Canadian Red Cross