Winter isn’t letting go of the London and Middlesex County area just yet. Very cold temperatures and windy conditions for today and overnight into Tuesday have prompted the Middlesex-London Health Unit to issue the winter’s fifth Cold Weather Alert. The Alert came into effect this morning as windchill values dipped to -22 with ambient temperatures near the Health Unit’s threshold of -15°C. The current Environment Canada’s forecast is calling for temperatures to drop to a low of -16°C overnight with increasingly cold windchill values making it feel like -24. This Cold Weather Alert will remain in effect until tomorrow morning.

“It’s been a cold winter and while a lot of people in London and Middlesex County are taking the steps necessary to stay warm, we still find that there are other folks who don’t take these frigid conditions seriously,” says Randy Walker, Public Health Inspector with the Middlesex-London Health Unit. “The best things you can do is cover exposed skin which can be damaged by the biting cold and dress in layers in order to keep your core warm and prevent hypothermia.”

Hypothermia happens when a person’s internal body temperature drops below normal. Symptoms can include pale skin, drowsiness, confusion and hallucinations. While individuals may shiver in the early stages of hypothermia, shivering may decrease as body temperature drops. In severe cases, individuals lose consciousness, their breathing becomes shallow and their pulse becomes irregular and hard to detect. Anyone with these symptoms requires emergency medical treatment in order to prevent coma or death.

Frostbite can also occur in uncovered skin that is overexposed to the cold, especially in damp and windy conditions. Symptoms include skin turning red, blue or in later stages, a gray/white colour. Individuals may experience pain, numbness and stiffness, especially in the fingers, toes, ears and nose, which are most susceptible to the cold. If you suspect frostbite, warm the affected area by placing it next to warmer skin or immerse in warm, but not hot, water. Do not rub the affected area, and seek emergency medical treatment for cases of severe, blistering frostbite. The re-warming process may take up to 60 minutes.

The Health Unit is also advising local agencies that provide shelter and assistance to the homeless to prepare for an increase in demand for their services tonight.

If you see someone who is outdoors and in distress due to the cold, contact London CAReS at 519-667-2273. If you feel the situation is a medical emergency, call 9-1-1. To view a list a list of warming centres in the City of London, please visit