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How Cold is Too Cold?

Toronto winter weather has been especially frigid these past few days! My hands and feet always get cold quickly, even in the end of August. I always have to plan my winter outfits ahead of time or I will suffer the cold consequences. Today I would like to share some tips for keeping warm in the winter and protecting your skin in extreme cold temperatures.

 

There is no golden rule or a perfect temperature that can determine whether it is too cold for outdoor activity. We all respond differently to different temperatures. Varying body fat content, blood circulation and even perception of the cold can impact how people respond to the weather. As a general guideline however, once temperatures go below 0°C you should start to consider dressing in layers and limiting your time spent outdoors.

 

Dressing Appropriately:

  • Purchase winter gear that is wind and water resistant
  • Always dress in layers
  • Consider purchasing thermal underwear. The additional layer works wonders, especially under clothing that gets cold quickly like jeans
  • Avoid wearing cotton as it retains moisture which can get you chilled. Try wearing moisture-wicking, waterproof and breathable fabrics instead
  • Always keep your head covered. An exposed head in chilly temperatures can quickly impact your internal core temperate
  • Cover as much skin as possible to avoid frostbite

 

 

Plan Your Outdoor Time Accordingly

Go outside during the warmest parts of the day. Temperatures are significantly colder in the dark when there is no sun. The wind chill can also significantly add to the cold.

 

Children

Babies and children who cannot walk yet get chilled quickly. Make sure they’re bundled. Also check their faces and hands frequently to make sure they aren’t too cold. If your child’s skin starts to turn red or blue, take them inside immediately. Be open to any complaints of burning skin. If your child starts to shiver or slur their speech, take them inside immediately as they may have frostbite or hypothermia.

 

Frostbite and Hypothermia

Your fingers, toes, ear lobes and nose are the most susceptible areas to frostbite. In extreme temperatures, your body works the hardest keeping your internal organs warm. It is extra important to remember to bundle up and protect those areas in particular as they will get cold the fastest.

When exposed to temperatures colder than –7°C, frostbite is capable of occurring in as little as 30 minutes. Some signs of frostbite include the feeling of pain when a body part gets too cold. A loss of colour or feeling can also be indications of frostbite. Numbness, and a prickling sensation are also indicators to be aware of.

Hypothermia can occur when internal body temperatures dip below 95 °F. Some symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, slurred speech or mumbling, shallow breathing, clumsiness or lack of coordination, drowsiness and loss of consciousness. If hypothermia occurs, seek medical attention immediately!

 

 

Author: Claire Ford, BA (Hons)

Clinical Receptionist | Social Media Rep | Toronto Health & Fitness Advocate

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