Our region’s Medical Officer of Health says keeping your core warm is key in extremely cold conditions.

“If you get really, really cold,” says Dr. Paula Stewart, with the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit, “then the body pulls in all the blood from your extremities, to be able to keep that part of your body warm, and the brain, so it can work.” She says feeling extremely cold in your fingers and toes is an early warning sign that you need to get inside a warm area soon.

Dr. Stewart also says you should avoid alcohol when you’re cold. “That causes you to vasodilate, or, your blood vessels to open up,” she says, “and you’re gonna lose your heat.” The health unit also says you shouldn’t drink anything with caffeine in it in extreme cold temperatures.

Stewart says one of the health unit’s main concerns at this time of year is people who live alone, and may not have someone to check on them when the temperature drops. “So, if you know someone like that,” she says, “then call them, make sure they’re okay, make sure their heating is working, because it can be really serious.”