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Temperature hits -15 C as Hamilton shivers through extreme cold alert

An extreme cold alert has been issued for the City of Hamilton as temperatures are expected to drop rapidly over the next 24 hours.

Wind chill values will make temperatures feel like -25 C

Hamiltonians bundled up Wednesday as temperatures plunged to -15 C, with wind chill values threatening to drive the mercury as far down as -25 C according to Environment Canada. 

The bulk of southern Ontario is under an extreme cold warning as a cold front moves through the region. The frigid temperatures are set to continue throughout the week, but Wednesday will be the coldest day. 

Forecasters warned it could get even colder on Wednesday afternoon, as strong northern winds pick up threatening to make it feel like -30 C outside. 

Geoff Coulson, Meteorologist for Environment Canada, says colder than normal temperatures will remain throughout the week and into the weekend. Normal temperatures for this time of year are -2 during the day and around -9 overnight.Environment Canada is warning anyone who isn't dressed warmly is at risk for frost bite and hypothermia.

Ian Wright, of Hamilton EMS, said paramedics haven’t treated anyone for cold-related causes yet, but they’re prepared in case it happens.

He said people on the street should look out for signs of hypothermia in others, including symptoms like shivering, confusion, fatigue or trouble speaking.

One sign that someone is in serious danger, Wright said, is that their coordination appears to be getting worse or if they actually stop shivering, signaling the body can no longer generate warmth.

In emergency cases like that, people should call 911. "We’re always here," Wright said.

Dan Millar, director of public relations for the Salvation Army, says the public can also report someone in need of shelter by calling Hamilton’s cold weather hotline at 905-527-1444 ext 224.

The Salvation Army works alongside other agencies in the city to ensure that residents are safe during the extreme cold.

“There is a lot of concern so that’s why we are out there right away to try and bring everyone inside,” said Millar.

There is a response van providing blankets and warm clothing for the homeless, he said.

Schools may keep children inside

A woman pushes a covered stroller near Beasley Park. Hamilton schools urged parents to prepare their children for the outdoor conditions, but said it would be up to principals to decide whether or not to keep kids inside during breaks. (John Rieti/CBC)
Jackie Penman, Manager of Corporate Communications for the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board said in an email that it’s important for students to arrive at school dressed and prepared for the cold weather. She said principals use discretion in determining whether or not students remain inside during recess given the extreme weather conditions.

Environment Canada is advising residents to dress appropriately with layers for additional insulation and is also recommending that drivers have a roadside emergency kit including a blanket and extra winter clothing in the event of getting stranded.

“If you don’t need to spend that much time outside it’s a good day to spend indoors,” said Coulson.

The Hamilton Fire Department is also urging the public to keep fire safety in mind when dealing with snow and cold winter weather.

The winter months often see more fires in homes, related to heating equipment and appliances. Residents should pay close attention when using fuel-burning appliances, space heaters and block heaters in vehicles, as all are potential fire hazards.

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