Rescue efforts continue today in the wake of a vicious winter storm that has dumped voluminous amounts of snow on the region since Sunday.
As of 4:30 this afternoon, there were more than 500 people who had been taken to warming centres located at the Fairgrounds in Wyoming, the Legion in Wyoming and the Oil Heritage District Community Centre in Petrolia.
About half of that number were people rescued from highway 402, while others were picked up from impassable roads east of Sarnia and near Petrolia.
The OPP says the highway will remain closed indefinitely in both directions between Sarnia and London.
A police spokesperson says military aircraft, including a C-130 Hercules and Griffon helicopters are continuing to avoid the OPP and other emergency crews with the rescue.
Hydro One has crews working on various power outages throughout Lambton County, with the majority of those without power in the Lakeshore Road area between Bright's Grove and Forest.
Earlier today, power was restored to areas in and around Brigden, Inwood, Oil Springs, Oil City and Dawn-Euphemia Township.
At last report, 724 customers remained without power in Lambton.
A snowsquall warning remains posted for Sarnia-Lambton with the possibility of more off-lake snow and drifting especially east and northeast of Sarnia. Environment Canada says the area that continue to be in the eye of the storm are Lambton Shores, Pinery Park and Watford.
Meantime, the Lambton County Health Services is reminding residents to take precautions during blizzard-like conditions, including limiting outdoor activities.
LambtonShield.com posts the information below as a public service to the communities which we serve;
Extreme Winter Weather Precautions
Sarnia, ON – Based on recent extreme winter weather conditions in Lambton County, the Medical Officer of Health would like to remind residents of precautions to take during such conditions. Listen to local weather forecasts, especially the wind chill index, for updates on current weather conditions and suspected conditions.
Severe cold weather can cause serious or even life-threatening health problems such as hypothermia.
Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature drops below the normal range between 36.1°C and 37.8°C (97°F – 100°F). Symptoms may include pale skin, lethargy, confusion, excessive shivering and hallucinations.
If someone is suffering from hypothermia:
Seek immediate medical attention.
Move person to a warm area, if possible; dress in warm clothing.
Offer warm water, juice or milk.
Do not offer alcohol or hot drinks.
Frostbite can occur in skin that is overexposed to cold temperatures. Symptoms of frostbite include skin turning red, blue, or a grey/white colour. Individuals may also experience pain, numbness and stiffness, especially in fingers, toes, ears and nose.
If you suspect frost bite:
Warm the skin next to the affected area or immerse in warm water. Do not use hot water.
Do not rub the affected area.
Seek immediate medical help.
Re-warming may take up to 60 minutes.
Avoid hypothermia or frost bite:
Check the weather forecast.
Dress warmly. Wear several layers of warm, loose-fitting clothes.
Protect your head and neck with a hat, scarf or hood: 30% of body heat escapes through the head.
Protect your face with a mask.
Wear wool socks and well-fitted boots that cover the ankles.
Wear mittens. They protect hands better than gloves.
Outermost layer of clothing should protect you from the wind.
Stay dry. Wet clothing chills the body. Remove outer layers or open your coat if sweating.
Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
Limit outdoor activity.
Know your limits. Children, seniors and those with circulation problems are more susceptible to cold.
During extreme cold temperatures, people most at risk include: infants (under 1 year), individuals 65 years of age or older, the homeless, outdoor workers, outdoor sport enthusiasts, people living in homes that are poorly insulated or without heat, and people living in homes without power (usually due to weather-related events such as a winter storm).
Cold-related injuries can be avoided by following these cold weather safety tips:
Be a good neighbour:
Check on elderly or relatives and friends who may need additional assistance to ensure their safety.
Minimize outside activities, particularly the elderly and very young. Also, consider your pets.
Know the signs of hypothermia and frost bite.
Around your home:
If you lose your heat, seal off unused rooms by stuffing towels in the cracks under the doors. At night, cover windows with extra blankets or sheets.
When using alternate heating sources, such as your fireplace, woodstove or space heater, take the necessary safety precautions. Keep a fire extinguisher handy and ensure that everyone knows how to use it properly. Test smoke alarms and Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors. Never use gasoline or charcoal-burning devices such as generators, or grills inside your home, basement, or garage.
Keep food and water safe during power outages
Keep the refrigerator door closed to maintain temperature. Without power the refrigerator will keep foods cool for 4-6 hours if the door is kept closed.
When in doubt, throw it out! If you are not sure whether an item is spoiled, play it safe and throw it out. Eating unsafe foods may cause food-borne illness.
Keep the freezer door closed to maintain temperature. Without power, an upright or chest freezer that is completely full will keep food frozen for about two days. A half-full freezer will keep food frozen for one day.
If you use the water from your own well, a power outage will normally cause the water pump to fail. Use an alternate source of safe water such as commercially bottled water.
If commercially bottled water is unavailable:
o Bring the water to a rolling boil for at least one minute, or
o Add six drops of newly purchased liquid household bleach (4-5% chlorine) per gallon (4.55 Liters) of water. Stir well and let the water stand from 30 minutes before using.
Make sure your car is properly winterized. Keep the gas tank at least half-full.
Carry a winter emergency kit including blankets, extra clothing, a flashlight with spare batteries, non-perishable foods, windshield scrapper, shovel, sand, towrope, and jumper cables.
If stranded in a car, ensure the tailpipe is cleared of snow and crack the window to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The County of Lambton Community Health Services Department (CHSD) advises local agencies that provide shelter and assistance to people who are homeless to prepare for an increase in demand during extreme weather events.
Visit www.lambtonhealth.on.ca for more information about severe cold weather.
For more information about Lambton County, visit www.lambtononline.ca.
Manager, Environmental Health and Prevention Services
County of Lambton
Telephone: 519 383-8331, ext. 3507