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Hypothermia calls and playing on ice: Hazards during B.C. deep freeze


As British Columbia marks another day of frigid temperatures from an "entrenched" Arctic air mass, emergency calls for cold-related medical issues are soaring and parks officials are urging people to stay off of frozen waterways. 

BC Emergency Health Services has seen 911 calls for hypothermia and frostbite go from three on Monday to 13 on Thursday and 18 on Friday as the mercury plunged.

“We’re not used to this extreme cold, especially with the wind chill factor we’re getting,” said paramedic information officer Brian Twaites.

"Hypothermia and frostbite are both serious medical emergencies, and those are calls we want to deal with as soon as possible.”

He points out while people can be hurt and require medical attention after falling on ice or getting in a minor car crash, not everyone needs urgent medical attention. A call to 811 for medical advice is a good start for non-emergencies, and everyone who can get themselves to an urgent care centre or hospital should do so.

CTV News found dozens of people around the Vancouver area stepping onto frozen surfaces at ponds and even Trout Lake, but the city’s park board is discouraging that.

“Although it is very cold, the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation does not recommend skating on any ponds or lakes at this time,” wrote a spokesperson in an email.

Cracks are clearly visible in many areas and a close look at the ice shows how much it can vary in thickness.

BCAA says calls for assistance have doubled during the cold snap as older batteries fail in sub-zero temperatures and slick road conditions lead to crashes, so they’re urging people to plan for longer-than-usual travel on the roads with extra clothes and snacks, as well as a full tank of gas.

“And if you don’t have your proper winter tires, maybe it’s better to stay home,” suggested customer care manager Josh Smythe. Top Stories

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