The City of Winnipeg is warning residents to take care and stay warm this week as temperatures plummet to dangerous levels across southern Manitoba.
Winnipeg’s balmy winter weather appears to be over as the forecast calls for minus double-digit temperatures this week, getting as low as minus 31 degrees overnight Thursday.
With the sustained cold expected for several consecutive days, the city is reminding residents not to stay outside too long, and to bundle up against the cold.
As well, older adults and very young children should avoid prolonged outdoor exposure. Winnipeggers are encouraged to check on older friends, relatives, and neighbours who live alone.
“There are individuals with certain types of medical conditions, like thyroid conditions,” said Tom Wallace, WFPS deputy chief of support services and 911 communications. “Those individuals suffering from diabetes can also be particularly susceptible to cold as well. And then individuals who are unsheltered, that is a community that’s of particular risk.”
Wallace said hypothermia can set in very rapidly at these frigid temperatures. Symptoms include confusion, shivering, difficulty speaking, sleepiness, and stiff muscles. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.
Residents are also reminded to bring their pets inside and limit the amount of time they spend outdoors.
With extreme cold temperatures making for a frigid forecast, community organizations say some people may not be prepared.
“I think that it really is a matter of life and death for some of the individuals in our city,” said Daniel Hidalgo, the founder of Community204 — a grassroots organization aimed at helping Winnipeg’s marginalized people. He said those living on the street need to navigate the severe weather safely.
“I think they need to be on the lookout for a lot of resources and community-based supports,” said Hidalgo.
Supports include Our Relatives’ Place – a 24/7 warming space located at 190 Disraeli Freeway. Aside from the shelter, the building also houses the North End Bear Clan Patrol.
Bear Clan Patrol executive director Kevin Walker said the organization will be working with others on location to serve nearby neighbourhoods. That includes having its volunteers patrol areas of the city to provide people with warm clothing and supplies.
“Especially with the cold weather, we need to be very vigilant to make sure that our relatives are safe out there,” Walker said.
Anyone who comes across someone in need of help or injured due to extreme cold should call 911 and report the person’s location and condition. Whenever possible, remain with the individual until emergency crews arrive.
“We have other organizations in the city as well, including the Downtown Community Safety Partnership that can assist with individuals in that geographic region who may be suspected of suffering from cold stress,” said Wallace.
He added that residents can always warm up at City facilities during periods of cold weather when they are open.
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