With southern Manitoba experiencing bitterly cold conditions, a Meteorologist is warning all of us to be extra careful when heading outdoors.

Natalie Hasell with Environment Canada says frostbite and hypothermia can occur, even when there is not an extreme cold warning in effect. She urges us to dress properly by wearing layers and making sure our footwear is waterproof and windproof. It is also important to cover extremities and as much exposed skin as possible.

If you are headed out onto the road, Hasell says you should make sure your vehicle is in good working order. This includes ensuring your fluids are topped up and you have plenty of gas.

"So that if you do end up on the highway unexpectedly stalled or stranded, you can be a little bit more comfortable than you would be otherwise," she says.

Hasell reminds us to have a charged cell phone while driving and to make sure that our vehicle has an emergency kit. Your kit should include the following items:

  • food that will not spoil, such as energy bars
  • water in plastic bottles so they will not break if frozen (change every six months)
  • blanket
  • extra clothing and shoes
  • first aid kit with seatbelt cutter
  • small shovel, scraper and snow brush
  • candle in a deep can and matches
  • wind-up flashlight
  • whistle, in case you need to attract attention
  • roadmaps
  • copy of your emergency plan and personal documents

Hasell says you should also have the following items in your trunk:

  • sand, salt or cat litter (non-clumping)
  • antifreeze/windshield washer fluid
  • tow rope
  • jumper cables
  • fire extinguisher
  • warning light or road flares

If you become stranded in your vehicle, Hasell says you should remember that distances are hard to judge on the highway. For example, when travelling at highway speed, landmarks do not appear as far apart. But if you leave your vehicle and try to walk for help, what appeared to be a short distance by car, can suddenly feel much longer.

"Assuming that your car is still intact, stay in your car, it already offers you shelter, so don't leave it," she says. "Even if you think you can make it to that thing in the distance, you might be exposing yourself to the elements unnecessarily and you might not make it to that location you think is shelter."