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Bundle up for anticipated cold snap

Temperatures are expected to plummet to -30°C for Southwest Coast region.

A pug dog and its owner dressed in winter gear are nose to nose.
If it's too cold outside for you, it's too cold for your pets, so be sure to bring them inside.

PORT AUX BASQUES — According to Environment Canada, the winter weather is going to get a lot colder in the province this week, with windchills nearing –30C. According to the Government of Canada, extremely cold temperatures under –27 can increase your risk of health effects such as windburn and frostbite.

 “The wind can make cold temperatures feel even colder. The wind chill index measures what the temperature feels like on exposed skin based on the speed of the wind. A wind chill can cause your body to lose heat faster and your skin to freeze very quickly. Wind chills below -70 have been recorded in some northern Canadian communities.

“Windburn occurs when cold wind removes the top layer of oil from the skin causing:

  • excessive dryness

  • redness

  • soreness

  • itchiness

“Frostbite generally occurs in body parts furthest from the heart:

  • hands

  • feet

  • nose

  • ears

“Mild frostbite (frostnip) makes your skin look yellowish or white but still soft to the touch. Your skin might turn red during the warming process, but normal colour returns once the area is warmed.

“Severe frostbite can cause permanent damage to body tissue if it is not treated immediately. Nerve damage occurs and frostbitten skin becomes discoloured and turns black. After some time, nerve damage becomes so severe that you will lose feeling in the affected area and blisters will occur. If the skin is broken and becomes infected, gangrene can set in which can result in loss of limbs.”

There are ways you can protect yourself when out in colder temperatures.

  • Always wear clothing appropriate for the weather. Synthetic and wool fabrics provide better insulation.

  • Dress in layers with a wind-resistant outer layer.

  • Wear warm socks, gloves, a hat and a scarf in cold weather, be sure to put a scarf over your nose to protect it.

  • If you get wet, change into dry clothing as soon as possible. You lose heat faster when you're wet.

  • On sunny days wear sun glasses, lip balm and sunscreen to protect your skin from UV rays and keep it moisturized.

  • Wear a face mask and goggles if you participate in winter activities such as skiing, snowmobiling and skating.

  • Keep moving (especially your hands and feet) to keep your blood flowing and maintain your body heat.

  • Pay attention to weather alerts in your area. Special weather statements and warnings are issued when extreme weather is possible in your area.

  • Prepare your home for cold winter temperatures by doing regular maintenance. Make sure your heating system is working efficiently and seal all cracks and drafts to keep the heat in.

  • Avoid consuming alcohol because consuming alcohol before you go out in the cold may increase your risk of hypothermia because it increases blood flow to the extremities of the body. “

The Town of Port Aux Basques wants to ensure that residents are prepared if temperatures drop as low as predicted.

“When there's weather systems coming in, we usually get notifications from a couple of departments. We get one from the province, from emergency services, and that's usually when there's sea surges or a lot of water, extreme winds, and we also get emails from Environment Canada after systems coming through. So we had gotten an email this morning saying there is going to be some cold temperatures, a wind chill -30 - bit colder in Labrador, I believe - so that's when myself and the superintendent, Scott Rose, had a chat about that this morning,” said Town Manager Nadine Osmond. “He said we might have to put out a notification because we don't want people's water to freeze not knowing about the cold weather that's coming, so that's when we sent out the text message, and I believe we have a message on Facebook as well and on our website.”

Last year a cold snap caused a lot of issues for some homeowners.

“Some people's water pipes froze and our guys were out and there was a wait time because they had to respond to a number of houses and everybody was in a sequence of - not so much priority - but as people called, it was recorded the times that they were called so that we knew who was next in line,” said Osmond. “I can't recall what the temperatures were either, and the cold temperatures back last year may have been combined with some bad weather. I don't think there’s bad weather in the forecast, it's just cold temperatures this time and we've got the notice out, so hopefully that'll keep some people prepared.”

There are a few things to keep in mind, to avoid your pipes freezing in your home. 

“Maybe in areas where pipes in your house are located in colder sections of your house, in the basement, maybe heat needs to be turned on a little bit,” said Osmond. “Some people will keep their water running, just a trickle in the nighttime, in their bathtub or bathroom sink to keep the water going and stop the pipes from freezing.”

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