Tobogganing

Miah Bussiere holds on to Suri Wyse as they hurtle downhill at Hudson Road Elementary School in West Kelowna on the weekend. The big hill in the schoolyard was filled with people sledding Saturday afternoon.

Layers, layers and more layers are key to keeping warm during this cold snap.

“Oh ya, I have five layers on — two pairs of pants, base layer, shirt, jacket, scarf, hat, two pairs of gloves, thick socks and good boots,” said Sandra Matic of Gable Landscaping. “Well, maybe that’s more than five,” she added with a laugh.

Matic was shovelling snow in front of the condominium building at 1056 Bernard Ave. in Kelowna on Monday morning as the temperature hovered around -17 C.

It’s the coldest blast of winter so far, and it has everyone talking.

Sunday into Monday, the overnight low was -17 C at Gordon Drive and Springfield Road, -18 C at UBC Okanagan and -22 C at Kelowna International Airport.

Environment Canada is moving away from using the Kelowna airport as the official temperature station because it’s in a frost pocket and it’s always colder there.

The agency feels the UBC Okanagan station, which tends to be a few degrees warmer, gives readings more representative of the real temperature in Kelowna.

Locations closer to downtown are generally a couple of degrees warmer than the university because of the moderating effect of the open water of Okanagan Lake.

Monday’s high was forecast to be -15 C.

Monday into Tuesday, the overnight low was predicted to possibly be a little colder at -22 C at the university and -15 again for a daytime high.

“That’s what happens when an arctic blast settles in,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lundquist.

“On Sunday, we got the heavy snow, blowing and drifting as the arctic front charged in, and now it’s here it’s just cold with no snow.”

But flurries could start Wednesday and the snow could start in earnest by the end of the week as warmer air comes in to push out the cold.

In the meantime, keep warm as the bitter cold continues for the next day or so.

WorkSafeBC has issued some cold weather precautions for workers that are also good for the general public.

The biggest health risk in extreme cold is frostbite that can quickly turn into cold stress that can rapidly result in hypothermia, the state where you become so chilled that your body loses more heat than it can produce.

If this happens, gradually heat your body up in a warm room with blankets, not in a hot bath or by vigorously rubbing yourself, and seek medical attention.

To be proactive and not get frostbite, cold stress or hypothermia, limit your time outside.

If you are outside, layer up as Matic suggested.

Your layers should allow you to sweat if you’re exercising or working, but also trap heat to keep you warm.

Wear a hat that fully covers your ears (a prime frostbite target) because most body heat is lost through the head.

Protect your hands and feet with thick, natural-fibre socks in waterproof winter boots (not fashion boots) and wear thick gloves, or preferably mittens, as the fingers stay together to warm each other.

Pace yourself with work or exercise as fatigue is more common in the cold and fatigue is a risk factor for frostbite, cold stress and hypothermia.

Stay hydrated with water, not coffee, tea or alcohol.