London, Ont. and Middlesex County under cold weather alert until Sunday

The alert is expected to end on Sunday morning with residents asked to dress for the weather and take precautions outdoors in the meantime. Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press

The Middlesex-London Health Unit has issued a cold weather alert that’s set to last for most of the weekend as the region braces for a rush of frigid temperatures.

Environment Canada’s weekend forecast for London, Ont., and Middlesex County comes with a set of temperature and windchill values that are both slightly above the MLHU’s threshold for issuing a cold weather alert.

The frigid air will move in on Friday, bringing an overnight low of -17 C before rising to a daytime high of -12 C on Saturday. Windchill values, meanwhile, will drop to -27 on Saturday morning before rising to only -18 later that day.

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The cold weather will continue through Saturday with an overnight low of -17 C heading into Sunday morning.

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However, the alert is expected to end on Sunday, which is forecast to have a daytime high of -5 C, according to Environment Canada.

In the meantime, the MLHU is advising those who plan on spending time outdoors to take precautions, cover any exposed skin and dress for the weather.

The health unit warns residents to not underestimate the potential damage winter weather can do to the body, which may lead to injuries such as frostbite or hypothermia.

Signs of frostbite include skin turning red, blue or, in later stages, grayish-white. Other symptoms include pain, numbness and stiffness, especially in the fingers, toes, ears and nose.

The MLHU says those who suspect they are experiencing frostbite should treat the affected area by placing it next to warmer skin or soaking it in warm, but not hot, water. The re-warming process may take up to 60 minutes.

Do not rub the affected area, the MLHU says, and emergency medical treatment should be sought in cases of severe and blistering frostbite.

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As for hypothermia, symptoms include pale skin, drowsiness, confusion and hallucinations. Shivering may occur in the early stages of hypothermia, but may also decrease as body temperature drops.

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In severe cases, those affected may lose consciousness with their breathing becoming shallow and their pulse becoming irregular and hard to detect.

Anyone with symptoms of hypothermia requires emergency medical treatment in order to prevent coma or death, according to the MLHU.

The cold weather alert also initiates the City of London’s extreme temperature protocol, which includes opening warming centres for those who require shelter from the weather.

A full list of warming centres is available on the city’s website.

Click to play video: 'Protecting your home during drastic temperature shifts in the winter'
Protecting your home during drastic temperature shifts in the winter

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