Brrr! With extremely cold temperatures forecast for the next few days, the Middlesex-London Health Unit has issued yet another cold weather alert.

The alert is the third this year and marks the return of bitter temperatures to the region after a brief break.The alert will continue through Friday.

Environment Canada is forecasting temperatures below -15 C for Tuesday, and they are expected to remain that low for the rest of the week.

A daytime low of -15 C is one of the criteria for issuing a cold weather alerts.

Iqbal Kalsi, environmental health manager at the Middlesex-London Health Unit, says people should not underestimate the effects of the cold.

“We’ve already had some experience with unseasonably cold temperatures already this winter, so we’re reminding people to dress for the conditions. If you have to spend time outdoors over the next few days, even if it’s just a few minutes, dress in layers and cover any exposed skin.”

Kalsi adds that frostbite and hypothermia can occur very quickly, so it’s important to know the signs and symptoms.

Hypothermia occurs when a person’s body temperature drops below normal. Symptoms may include pale skin, lethargy, confusion and hallucinations. Individuals may shiver a lot in the early stages of hypothermia, but shivering may decrease as their body temperature continues to drop.

In severe cases, people can lose consciousness, their breathing becomes shallow and their pulse becomes irregular and hard to detect. Anyone found with these symptoms requires immediate emergency treatment in order to prevent coma or death.

Frostbite can also occur in skin that is overexposed to the cold. Symptoms include skin turning red, blue or a grey/white. Individuals may also experience pain, numbness and stiffness, especially in the fingers, toes, ears and nose, which are most susceptible to the cold.

If you suspect frostbite, you should warm the affected area by placing it next to warmer skin or immersing it in warm, but not hot, water. Do not rub the affected area, and seek emergency medical treatment for cases of severe, blistering frostbite. The re-warming process may take up to 60 minutes.

Anyone who would like tho help the homeless dealing with these conditions is asked to drop off donations of non-perishable foods, blankets, sleeping bags and warm clothing to the Men’s Mission and Rehabilitation Centre, The Salvation Army Centre of Hope or the Unity Project.