Homeless at great risk of hypothermia and other complications as temperatures plummet | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

Current Conditions


Kelowna News

Homeless at great risk of hypothermia and other complications as temperatures plummet

There are about 50 homeless people camping overnight in this ball diamond.
November 29, 2019 - 6:30 PM

The homeless people camped on a ball diamond in Kelowna are the people most at risk as the temperatures plummet over the next couple of days.

But, to outsiders, the symptoms of hypothermia look similar to intoxication — a lack of coordination, confusion, trouble speaking, thinking and walking and irrational behavior.

“Homeless people are also vulnerable to a number of other health risks, including communicable diseases like tuberculosis, injuries, malnutrition, and mental health,” Interior Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Trevor Corneil said in an email.

Roughly 50 people are camped out on the ball diamond behind Kelowna Curling Club in the city’s North End. They were relocated earlier this week from Leon Avenue.

The city put up a warming shelter Friday, that some may sleep in but it will only be heated from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Those in tents – some of whom had propane heaters – have to pack them up by 9 a.m. each day and can’t set them up again until 7 p.m.

That means they have 10 hours to try to find places to keep warm. The Gospel Mission and The Metro offer some respite from the cold but some of these campers have been banned from the Gospel Mission.

Temperatures are expected to drop to as low as -13º C over the weekend with daytime highs of -8º C. It’s expected to warm up to around freezing by Tuesday of next week.

A Health Canada web page says there are three stages of hypothermia.

During the first stage, the core body temperature drops by one to two degrees, people will shiver and get goose bumps on their skin. Hands become numb and breath can become quick and shallow.

Stage two is when the body temperature falls two to four degrees. There will be strong shivering, muscles are uncoordinated, movements slow, there may be mild confusion and the skin may turn blue.

“Here's an easy test to check if you have stage 2 hypothermia: Try touching your thumb to your little finger. If you can't, your muscles are not working properly and you're experiencing stage 2 hypothermia,” the site states.

As the core body temperature drops further, the shivering will stop but people will have trouble speaking, thinking and walking and amnesia may set in. Exposed skin can become blue and puffy and behaviour becomes irrational. At that point, there is a risk of dying.

At stages two and three, Health Canada suggests calling 911 and, while waiting, to find shelter, keep muscles moving, dry and gradually warm the person. Warming can be done by wrapping the person in blankets or reheat them with skin to skin contact with another person. Warm sweet liquids are recommended and shivering will help increase the core body temperature.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above. 

News from © iNFOnews, 2019

  • Popular kelowna News
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile