Reminders on how to cope with cold

Jan. 8, 2014 at 10:18 AM
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OTTAWA, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- With many facing bone-chilling cold and snow in the United States and Canada, Environment Canada says even those accustomed to cold should reassess how to cope.

Officials at Environment Canada and Health Canada said there's no rocket science involved in understanding that colder temperatures can pose health concerns for individuals, especially if they are outside -- windburn, frostbite and hypothermia can pose significant risks.

With lows of more than -20 in some places, Environment Canada urges extreme caution for people outdoors because exposed skin can freeze in a matter of minutes, the CBC reported.

To reduce the risk in extreme cold, Health Canada reminds people should:

-- Dress in layers with a wind-resistant outer layer; choose warm socks, gloves, hat and a scarf; and change into dry clothing as soon as possible if clothes get wet.

-- Use sunglasses, lip balm and sunscreen on sunny days. Wear a face mask and goggles if skiing, snowmobiling or skating to protect from frostbite and windburn and keep moving to keep blood flowing.

-- Avoid alcohol. If you drink before you go outside, it could increase the risk of hypothermia because of increased blood flowing to your extremities. "You may actually feel warm even though you are losing heat," Health Canada said.

-- Find shelter. If there aren't any buildings around, look for a small cave, a ditch, a hollow tree or a vehicle to reduce the chance of frostbite or hypothermia.

Winter driving has its own challenges and the Canadian Automobile Association recommends drivers pay particularly close attention to their battery, which can be drained of power by the cold.

"Before you attempt to start your car, make sure you have turned off all your accessories including the heater, radio and lights," Silvana Aceto, a media relations consultant for CAA South Central Ontario, told the CBC.

The CAA also recommends checking tire pressure regularly and keeping the gas tank at least half full to help avoid a fuel line freeze.

Drivers should also keep the following in their vehicles:

-- Fully charged cellphone.

-- Ice scraper and snow brush.

-- Booster cables.

-- Extra warm clothing and footwear.

-- Blankets and sleeping bags.

-- Windshield washer fluid.

-- Bottled water.

-- Granola or energy bars.

-- Flashlight.

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