Winter Weather Safety

Cold Weather Tips

Winnipeg can be magical in the winter. Waking up to a fresh blanket of snow on a crisp winter morning. Seeing your breath. Feeling the crunch of the snow beneath your feet.  Being outdoors can help to chase away the stresses and strains of everyday life.

But extreme cold temperatures can be a hazard to personal safety, and special precautions are required. Before you head outdoors, please take the following steps to reduce your risk of weather-related health problems:

  • Older adults and very young children should avoid prolonged outdoor exposure.
  • Check on older friends, relatives and neighbours who live alone. During periods of extreme cold weather, offer to shop for older friends and relatives
  • While indoors, try to keep at least one room heated to 20 degrees Celsius. Be careful when using fireplaces, stoves or space heaters to stay warm. Carbon monoxide poisoning and home fires are very real winter hazards.
  • Dress in layers of warm, dry clothing, so that you can adjust to changing conditions. Be sure to wear a warm hat that covers your ears and a pair of loose-fitting gloves or mitts – Up to 40% of our body heat is lost through the head and hands.
  • Eat high-energy foods along with warm beverages and soup. Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages.
  • Avoid fatigue and exhaustion during cold weather. Overexertion, such as shoveling snow or pushing a car, can strain your heart.
  • Cover exposed skin surfaces to protect from frostbite. Warm affected areas gradually by wrapping or placing the affected area next to warm skin or in warm water. Do not rub areas of frostbitten skin.
  • Recognize the symptoms of hypothermia: confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. If these symptoms are present, seek immediate medical attention. Severe hypothermia can be life threatening.
  • Use particular caution on slippery surfaces during winter weather. Many injuries are caused by falls on ice-covered sidewalks, steps and driveways. Keep these areas clear of snow and use salt or sand on ice.
  • Wear winter footwear with good treads, foot traction aids and/or ice picks on canes. Reschedule outings or appointments on days that are particularly slippery.
  • When traveling by automobile, monitor weather conditions carefully and adhere to travel advisories.
  • Keep a winter storm survival kit in your car. This should include extra clothing, blankets, food, flares, chains, gloves and first aid supplies. Keep your gas tank full and to the extent possible, avoid traveling alone.


For further information, please contact Health Links - Info Santé at 788-8200. Registered nurses are available to answer your health-related questions 24 hours per day, seven days a week.

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