WINNIPEG (CITYNEWS) – They don’t call it “Winterpeg” for nothing: an extreme cold warning has been issued for the city and the rest of Manitoba.
The alert from Environment Canada warns a cold front is moving in across the province and people can expect a period of very cold wind chills.
“Widespread extreme wind chill values of -40 to -50 are expected to begin late this evening and last through Thursday afternoon,” reads the notice. Winnipeg and other parts of Manitoba might end up dipping to temperatures that are colder than the North Pole. Today’s high in North Pole, Nunavut is -37. In North Pole, Alaska, the high is -8.
With temperatures dipping that low, the government agency says there’s an elevated risk for frostbite and hypothermia especially for kids and older adults, people with chronic illnesses, people who work outdoors, and those without access to adequate shelter.
If you have to go outside, you’re being asked to dress appropriately with layers and thick fabrics, insulated footwear, warm socks, hats, and gloves.
Our officers are reporting slippery conditions all around the perimeter highway. This incident happened on #MBHwy101 at Dugald Rd earlier this morning. Please slow down and use caution. #rcmpmb pic.twitter.com/IgLVQTeKgQ
— RCMP Manitoba (@rcmpmb) January 28, 2019
Frostbite typically appears first in body parts furthest from the heart, including feet, fingers, nose, and ears.
Frostbite can make your skin look yellowish or white when it starts. As it gets more extreme, skin will become more discoloured, eventually turning black. After some time, nerve damage becomes so severe that feeling in the affected area will be lost and blisters will form.
If you notice this happening to you or someone you know, move to a warm room, wrap yourself or the frostbitten person in blankets, or reheat your body by skin-to-skin contact with another person. Health Canada also recommends adding heat directly to the frostbitten area.
“The idea is to thaw the injured skin as quickly as possible without burning yourself. Thawing frostbitten skin is very painful so the injured skin should be placed in water that is just above body temperature. Do not rub, massage or shake the injured skin because that can cause more damage,” says the organization.
Stages of Hypothermia
Health Canada says there are three stages of hypothermia:
- Stage 1 – When your body temperature drops by 1 or 2ºC (1.8 or 3.6ºF), you start shivering, get goosebumps on your skin, and your hands become numb. Your breath can become quick and shallow, and you may feel tired and/or sick to your stomach. You may also experience a warm sensation, which means your body is entering stage 2 of hypothermia.
- Stage 2 – Your body temperature has dropped by 2 – 4ºC (3.8 – 7.6ºF) and your shivering is strong. Muscles are uncoordinated and movements are slow and laboured. You may suffer mild confusion, become pale, and your lips, ears, fingers, and toes may turn blue.
Here’s an easy test to check if you have stage 2 hypothermia:
Try touching your thumb to your little finger. If you can’t, your muscles are not working properly and you’re experiencing stage 2 hypothermia.
- Stage 3 – If your body temperature drops below 32ºC (89.6ºF), the shivering will stop but you’ll have trouble speaking, thinking, and walking. You may even develop amnesia. When your body temperature drops below 30ºC (86.0ºF), exposed skin becomes blue and puffy, it will be hard to move your muscles and your behaviour becomes irrational. Your heart may be beating quickly but your pulse and breathing will decrease. At this stage you are at risk of dying.
The agency says if stage one hypothermia has taken over, there are a few things you can do to help prevent it from getting worse. You can find shelter, keep your body moving, warm up with blankets and warm liquids. If conditions persist into stage two or three, Health Canada urges you to seek immediate medical attention.
— RCMP Manitoba (@rcmpmb) January 28, 2019
A number of shelters are open during the day and overnight. If you need to warm up you can also go to any City of Winnipeg library or leisure centre during regular business hours.
Environment Canada is also warning pet owner to keep animals inside and make sure pets’ outdoor bathroom breaks are brief.