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March 3, 2003
Toronto Paramedics warn everyone to take precautions - inside and outside -during extremely cold weather
  
Emergency Medical Services - Toronto Emergency Medical Services paramedics are
urging residents to be careful of potential hazards caused by the extreme cold,
whether they are heading outside or staying indoors trying to keep warm.

"Many Toronto residents are used to the daily reports of extreme cold weather
aimed at the homeless and marginally housed populations, but today everyone is
at risk," said Tom Murray of the Toronto EMS Community Medicine Program.
"Extremely cold temperatures combined with wind chill can freeze exposed skin
in minutes, and there is a serious risk of hypothermia and frostbite if people
stay outside too long."

Even people who stay indoors to avoid extreme cold are at risk. Toronto EMS
urges everyone to be aware of the potential dangers of carbon monoxide
poisoning.

"With the increased cold weather most people, especially older residents, tend
to turn their furnaces way up. Furnaces that are not properly maintained can
burn inefficiently and produce carbon monoxide," added Murray. "People
preparing to go out may start the car in the garage to let it warm up. This
too can produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in the home."

Carbon monoxide is an odourless, tasteless and colourless toxic gas that is
produced during the burning of fossil fuels like gas, coal, and charcoal. There
are other types of carbon monoxide-producing appliances and equipment that can
be dangerous - and potentially life threatening - if used indoors:

· Burners and vents on gas furnaces, water heaters and space heaters that are
not functioning properly
· Camping stoves, propane gas stoves or charcoal grills
· Butane and kerosene space heaters and wood burning stoves used in
semi-enclosed spaces
· Gasoline powered generators used inside garages can vent carbon monoxide into
the house.

Carbon monoxide can cause symptoms including headache, shortness of breath,
dizziness, nausea and ultimately it can lead to coma and death.

Toronto EMS recommends that all residents have working carbon monoxide
detectors in their homes and that furnaces and appliances be properly
serviced. "Stay alert and stay safe in extremely cold weather," added Murray.
"If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please call 9-1-1 to get
medical attention and leave the area immediately."


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416-338-0338

 

 

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