In Canada, cold weather is responsible for a significant number of health problems and deaths. It can have direct effects on health, such as frostbite and hypothermia. The cold can also have an indirect effect on health, by aggravating certain illnesses. Carbon monoxide poisoning is also an indirect effect of the cold on health.
Aggravation of Pre-existing Illnesses
Cold weather can aggravate certain respiratory illnesses, such as asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
The health of people with cardiovascular illnesses can also worsen due to cold temperatures. People with angina or those who have already suffered a heart attack or a stroke can experience a worsening of symptoms.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
During cold weather, some people use space heaters to keep warm at home. Also, during power outages, many people use appliances that burn fuel, such as propane, wood or oil. These appliances are sometimes used indoors or in an enclosed space (garage, shed, workshop, etc.). They can release carbon monoxide if they are not designed for indoor use or not in good condition.
Carbon monoxide is a clear and odourless gas that can cause potentially fatal poisoning. To learn more, consult the Carbon Monoxide Poisoning page.