Ottawa Public Health issues frostbite warning

Ottawa Public Health has upgraded its frostbite advisory for Ottawa to a warning as the wind chill plunges in the city.

Frostbite advisory issued Tuesday upgraded to warning

The city is urging people to cover as much exposed skin as possible to prevent frostbite. (The Canadian Press/Justin Tang)

If you unwrapped a new scarf or toque for Christmas, today is a good day to wear it. 

Ottawa Public Health issued a frostbite warning Wednesday as temperatures continue to plunge in the nation's capital. The warning remains in effect until further notice. 

A frostbite warning is issued when a wind chill of –35 or colder is forecast by Environment Canada. When the wind chill is that severe, exposed skin can freeze in less than 10 minutes.

"There is also an increased risk of hypothermia for people who stay outside for long periods of time without adequate protection. Overexposure can result in severe injury and even death," OPH said in a news release.

'Wear several layers'

"OPH recommends that you wear several layers of clothing to keep warm and make sure that the outer layer protects you from wind and moisture."

Once you're out of the cold, public health recommends you gradually warm your skin with body heat or warm water, but not to rub or massage the affected area. Serious frostbite cases require amputation. 

Environment Canada also issued a cold weather warning for the Ottawa area, saying the cold weather could put everyone at risk or frostbite or hypothermia.

The high for Wednesday reached –20 C around 2 and 3 p.m.

The deep freeze continues Thursday with a forecasted high of –20 C and a wind chill of –38. Overnight the temperature is expected to dip to –26 C with a wind chill of –33.

Preventing frostbite

According to Ottawa Public Health, the key to staying warm is dressing in layers. At least three layers are recommended when you're heading outside.

  • The first layer, closest to the skin, should be clothing that wicks away moisture.
  • The second layer should be insulating, such as a sweater or sweatshirt. 
  • Layer three should be an outer layer that protects against wind and moisture. 

Cover as much exposed skin as possible to prevent frostbite and do not forget mittens, gloves, hats and scarves to protect against heat loss.

Boots should also be warm and, preferably, waterproof. 

Temperatures are expected to warm up by Saturday, with a high of –18 C expected and an overnight low of –21 C.