Extreme Cold and Hypothermia

Extreme cold means the outdoor temperatures drop below the average for that time of year. Exposure to cold temperatures can cause serious and sometimes even life-threatening health problems. Although everyone is at risk, some groups are more vulnerable including:

  • Children and infants;
  • Seniors;
  • Homeless people;
  • Outdoor workers;
  • Skiers/ice skaters;
  • People living in poorly insulated homes or without power; and,
  • People with asthma.

Health effects of extreme cold exposure: Hypothermia

Hypothermia occurs when the body’s temperature is less than 35 degrees C(95 degrees F). Symptoms  of hypothermia may include:

  • Shivering;
  • Confusion;
  • Weakness;
  • Mumbling;
  • Low energy; and,
  • Pale skin colour.

If someone has hypothermia, remove their wet clothing and bring them to a warm place. Warm the person gradually with several layers of blankets and seek medical attention immediately.

Here are some general tips to help keep warm during extremely cold weather periods:

  • Cover exposed skin;
  • Wear a hat, scarf and gloves and wear clothes in layers;
  • Keep children indoors if the temperature falls below -25 degrees C(-13 degrees F), or if the wind chill is -28 degrees C(-18 degrees F) or greater;
  • Drink warm fluids, avoiding beverages with caffeine and alcohol;
  • Find shelter from the wind to reduce wind exposure; and,
  • Listen to the weather forecast and plan ahead accordingly


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Pediatrician DR.PAUL Roumeliotis is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The information provided above is designed to be an educational aid only. It is not intended to replace the advice and care of your child’s physician, nor is it intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. If you suspect that your child has a medical condition always consult a physician.