Santé Montréal

Stay healthy this winter - Deep freeze

Extreme cold be careful!

Extreme cold means temperatures are below normal, when cold temperatures combine with strong winds (wind chill) that result in temperatures falling below -27 °C. These temperatures come with more health risks.

Main health effects

  • Windburn
    Skin becomes very dry, red, sore and itchy
  • Frostbite
    Skin of the extremities (hands, feet, nose) turns yellowish or white
  • Irritation of the respiratory tract
  • Hypothermia
    Body temperature drops below 35 °C, causing shivering and, with prolonged exposure, euphoria, convulsions, coma and death.
  • Risks of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning 
    Attributed to using backup or non-electric heating systems.

A few preventive measures can save your life

  • Children and people with asthma or heart conditions should stay indoors.
  • Cover up as much as possible, especially your head and extremities. Protect your face with sunscreen or wear a scarf or mask, and keep your back to the wind.
  • Avoid taking long car trips and make sure you are well prepared if you absolutely need to go somewhere (full gas tank, windshield washer fluid, warm clothing, candles and matches, cell phone, reliable car, etc.).
  • Don’t go out alone in remote areas.  
  • Don’t drink alcohol, especially to try to warm up.
  • If you’re outdoors, find shelter and keep your body moving.
  • If you work outdoors, go inside regularly to warm up and avoid frostbite.
  • At home, make sure your heating system and smoke detectors are working properly.
  • Never use outdoor heaters inside the house.

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Éditée par : Direction régionale de santé publique de Montréal.
Last Update : 05 March 2020