Ottawa Public Health has extended a frostbite advisory to Family Day Monday and is urging people to dress properly and cover any exposed skin.

The municipal health agency said exposed skin can freeze, and urged homeless people to seek shelter indoors and urged everyone to take precautions when going outside. 

The tips to prevent frostbite, according to health officials, are:

  • Get to a warm area before frostbite sets in. If it is too cold outside, consider staying indoors.
  • Keep extra mittens and gloves in the car, house or backpack.
  • Wear larger mittens over your gloves.
  • Wear a scarf to protect the chin, lips and cheeks. They are all extremely susceptible to frostbite.
  • Wear two pairs of socks — wool if possible.
  • Keep feet warm and dry.
  • Do not drink alcohol, which narrows blood vessels and promotes frostbite plus hypothermia.

If you are wondering if you might have frostbite, there are four signs. Health officials call them the four "P's:"

  • Pink: reddish in colour (first sign).
  • Pain: becomes painful.
  • Patches: white, waxy-feeling patches show when skin is dying.
  • Pricklies: areas feel numb.

If you do notice you have frostbite, Ottawa Public Health advises you do the following:

  • Do not rub or massage affected areas. It may cause more damage.
  • Warm up the area slowly. Use a warm compress or your own body heat to re-warm the area but don't use a compress that is too hot. Underarms are a good place.
  • If toes or feet are frostbitten, try not to walk on them.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if you see white- or grey-coloured patches or if the area is numb.

Paramedics advise residents to seek immediate medical attention if you notice a severe frostbite.