Harsh winter conditions, like what we have been experiencing for days and even weeks in Toronto, exposes anyone and everyone to weather-related health risks. The situation is made worse for those who are homeless or socially isolated.
Here are five weather-related dangers:
1. Frostbite: Untreated, severe frostbite can lead to permanent nerve damage, blisters and even infection and loss of limbs.
2. Temperature-related Illnesses: Cold temperatures lower immunity and thicken blood increasing the risk of everything from infection to heart attack.
3. Hypothermia: Hypothermia occurs when the body's core temperature drops below 37 degrees Celsius. The situation grows worse when shivering stops and the person loses consciousness or cardiac arrest occurs.
4. Loneliness: Individuals with less social connection have disrupted sleep patterns, altered immune systems, more inflammation and higher levels of stress hormones.
5. Depression: Weather affects our mental state. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a well-documented form of depression that can strike even healthy people.