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Health unit warns of upcoming extremely cold weather

With the temperature set to drop as low as -40 C in the region over the next few days, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) is reminding residents to be prepared.

Officials with SMDHU say that extreme cold can cause frostbite or hypothermia. As well, there are health risks for those who are homeless, work or play outside, plus older adults, infants, and those with preexisting medical conditions like heart or lung disease. 

The signs of frostbite are skin that’s white or grayish-yellow, unusually firm or waxy, and cold to the touch or has the sensation of pins and needles followed by numbness.

Officials say to find a warm spot and remove wet clothes if any of those symptoms are spotted. 

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In the case of hypothermia, it happens when the body loses heat faster than it can take it in, according to officials. That leads to the core body temperature falling too low for the body to function properly. Signs of hypothermia include shivering, pale or blueish skin, confusion, difficulty speaking or moving, drowsiness, or exhaustion. 

Officials say any symptom of hypothermia requires immediate medical attention.

They suggest keeping an eye on the weather forecast and dressing accordingly. Officials say as the weather gets colder, it’s best to pile on more layers to stay warm. That includes protecting skin from UV rays with sunglasses on sunny days, lip balm, and sunscreen, too, to have protection against windburn. 

It’s also a good idea to take breaks to warm up, they add.

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