In Winnipeg, temperatures drop to extreme cold levels each year in the winter. Preparing for this hazard can help keep you safe.
Dressing for the weather
When weather conditions are chilly, dress in layers, with an outer layer that can protect you from wind. Wear waterproof footwear, and cover your hands and your head.
- 1-2 layers upper body
- Outer layer, to keep out wind and rain
- Warm and waterproof shoes
In cold weather, limit the time you spend outside. Wear 2-3 layers on the top and bottom and ensure your outer layer is waterproof and wind resistant. Wear a hat, boots, and mittens or gloves.
- Warm hat
- 2-3 layers upper body
- Outer layer, to keep out wind and wet snow
- 1-2 layers lower body
- Waterproof boots
In periods of extreme cold, avoid spending time outside. Cover all exposed skin and dress in 3 or more layers on the top and bottom, ensuring your outer layer is waterproof and wind resistant. Wear waterproof boots, a hat, and mittens or gloves.
- Warm hat
- Face mask
- 3+ Layers upper body, one being insulating
- Outer layer to keep out wind
- 2+ bottom layers
- Waterproof boots
Consult the Weather Office website for the wind chill forecast and current values where you are.
If you or someone you know has been outside in cold weather and is experiencing any of the following symptoms, call 9-1-1.
- Difficulty speaking
- Stiff muscles
When the temperature drops, it's important to dress appropriately when going outside.
Extreme cold weather safety tips
Take the following steps to reduce your risk in extremely cold weather:
- Older adults and very young children should avoid prolonged outdoor exposure.
- While indoors, try to keep at least one room heated to 20 degrees Celsius. Be careful when using fireplaces, stoves or space heaters to stay warm. Carbon monoxide poisoning and home fires are very real winter hazards.
- Dress in layers of warm, dry clothing, so that you can adjust to changing conditions. Wear a warm hat that covers your ears and a pair of loose-fitting gloves or mitts.
- Eat high-energy foods along with warm beverages that are easier to digest. Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages.
- Avoid fatigue and exhaustion during cold weather. Overexertion, such as shoveling snow or pushing a car, can strain your heart.
- Cover exposed skin surfaces to protect from frostbite. Gradually warm affected areas by wrapping or placing the area next to warm skin or in warm water. Do not rub areas of frostbitten skin.
- Recognize the symptoms of hypothermia: confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. If these symptoms are present, seek immediate medical attention. Severe hypothermia can be life threatening.
- Use caution on slippery surfaces. Falls on ice-covered sidewalks, steps, and driveways can lead to injuries. Keep these areas clear of snow and apply salt or sand on ice.
- Wear winter footwear with good treads, foot traction aids and/or use ice picks on canes. Reschedule outings or appointments on days that are particularly slippery.
- When traveling by automobile, check weather conditions follow all travel advisories.
- Keep a winter storm survival kit in your car. Your kit should include extra clothing, blankets, food, flares, chains, gloves and first aid supplies. Remember to keep your gas tank full and avoid traveling alone if possible.
Check in on older or vulnerable friends, relatives, and neighbours who live alone. During periods of extreme cold weather, offer to shop for older friends and relatives.
Also, bring pets inside and limit the amount of time they spend outside during periods of cold weather.
Winterize your home & vehicle
The best time to prepare for a Winnipeg winter is before the season starts.
Each fall, take some time to prepare your home and your vehicle for cold temperatures.
- Have your furnace serviced by a certified technician
- Clean your chimney
- Ensure your home's outdoor air vents are not blocked by snow or ice
- Check the supplies in your 72-hour emergency kit
- Never use a fuel-powered generator indoors (even in an open garage) or in a confined space outdoors to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning
Winnipeg summers often include extreme heat conditions and summer storms. Preparing for these hazards can help keep you and your family safe.
Heat affects the body's ability to regulate its temperature. The body tries to keep a consistent temperature (about 37ᵒC or 98.6ᵒF), but prolonged exposure to heat can result in conditions such as dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Death can occur if the body's temperature climbs too high.
Emergency medical attention may be required depending on the severity and duration of symptoms. If you or someone you know is exhibiting symptoms of a heat-related illness, call 911.
High humidity reduces the body's ability to cope with hot temperatures because less heat can be lost by perspiration. People with chronic health conditions, older adults, infants and young children, those taking certain medications or performing strenuous activity, and those who face barriers to finding safe shelter are at increased risk for heat illness.
Ultraviolet (UV) rays
Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun and other sources, such as tanning beds can be a health risk. Overexposure to UV rays can lead to sunburns, premature skin aging, other skin changes and skin cancer. Sunburn also reduces the ability to cope with heat. Eye conditions such as cataracts can also result from UV exposure.
Be prepared for extreme heat and remember to check the weather forecast. Heat illnesses and UV damage can be prevented by taking the following precautions:
- Drink plenty of water or other liquids before you feel thirsty
- Avoid getting too much sun
- Wear sunscreen, a hat, loose-fitting clothes, and UVA and UVC protected sunglasses
- Plan outdoor activities for cooler parts of the day
- Find a cool place to go to cool down when outdoors; Some civic buildings including pools, spray pads, leisure centres, libraries may be open during regular operating hours as a place for residents to find relief from the heat. Contact 311 for locations and operating hours.
- Take cool baths or showers
- Check in on family members, neighbours, and friends when it gets hot, especially older adults and people with chronic conditions
- Ensure children or pets are never left alone in closed vehicles or direct sunlight
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Apply sunscreen with a minimum SPF 15 to all exposed skin, according to the instructions on the label and reapply regularly, especially if you are in the water or sweating
- Be mindful of sun exposure for babies and young children; try to stay in the shade when possible
- Avoid the use of artificial UV tanning equipment
- If you plan to travel anywhere by vehicle, have cool drinks in your vehicle and keep your gas tank full
Preparedness at home
- Install window air conditioners, check your home's insulation, and have central air conditioners serviced annually
- Install temporary reflectors (aluminum and cardboard) to reflect heat back outside
- Weather-strip doors and windows to keep cool air inside
- Cover large windows with drapes or shades to reduce heat entering your home
- Ensure your pets have plenty of water and access to shaded or cool areas
- Walk your pets during the cooler hours of the day to ensure they don't burn their paws on the hot pavement
The City of Winnipeg works with End Homelessness Winnipeg and other partners to identify resources for individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness.
We are also part of the Extreme Weather Response Committee, which helps coordinate support and resources as needed. This includes additional shelter space.
For information on shelter locations, available resources, and more safety tips, read: End Homeless Winnipeg’s 2023-24 Extreme Weather Response Plan.