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Temperatures are dipping through Ontario, prompting health officials to take measures to keep the public safe.

Frostbite warning issued for the City of Ottawa

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Digital writers

Monday, January 20, 2014, 4:38 PM -

A sharp cold front bringing snow squalls to southern Ontario has prompted health officials to issue a frostbite warning for the City of Ottawa.

The alert will be in place between Monday and Tuesday night. During this time, the wind chill is could make the temperature feel as cold as -35 at times.

Ottawa officials issue such an alert when wind chill values dip to -35 or lower.

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Wind chill warnings remain in effect for most of southern Ontario, spanning from Kincardine to Niagaria Falls, through the GTA, and then east into Ottawa and Quebec.


The plunging temperatures are expected to affect the region for much of this week.

"The cold air continues to infiltrate Quebec and southern Ontario such that Tuesday morning's lows will likely be the coldest since the last significant cold snap," says Weather Network meteorologist Monica Vaswani.

Wind chills ranging between -25 to -35 are forecast across the region on Tuesday morning.

That prompted the City of Toronto to issue an extreme cold weather alert to "make vulnerable homeless people in Toronto aware of the dangers of staying outside too long in cold weather and to ensure they have safe and warm places to go."

The alerts are issued when Environment Canada predicts a coming overnight temperature of -15°C or lower, without wind chill. It can also be issued when extreme weather conditions such as a blizzard, ice storm or sudden drop in temperature is forecast.

During an extreme cold weather alert, the city immediately adds 26 shelter spaces for men and women to the shelter spaces available to staff looking to refer a client to a shelter bed.


Frostbite is a serious condition that causes both the skin and underlying tissue ( i.e., fat, muscle and bone) to freeze after prolonged exposure to cold.

Skin will become white and waxy in appearance and feel hard to the touch. There is no feeling in the affected area, it will be numb.

In temperatures below -40ºC, frostbite can occur in as little as 10 minutes.

Preventing frostbite

  • Limit time outdoors when wind chill warnings are in place
  • Do not keep your pets outdoors for prolonged periods of time when wind chill warnings are in place
  • Keep an extra pair mittens with you.
  • Use a scarf to protect the chin, lips and cheeks -- these areas are particularly vulnerable to frostbite.
  • Keep feet warm and dry.
  • Do not drink alcohol. This narrows blood vessels and can expedite the onset of frostbite.

How to Treat the Condition

  • Frostbite can be serious and end up in amputation. Seek medical attention.
  • Do NOT rub or massage the affected area.
  • Wait to warm the area until you are certain that it will stay warm.
  • Slowly warm the area - use body heat or warm water (40 to 42ºC) avoid direct heat because it can burn the skin.

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