Students at a Lockport, Man., school took part in a unique cold-weather fire drill on Tuesday, testing out tarps that could keep them warm in emergencies.
About 400 students and staff at Lockport School huddled under six large tarps, as part of a system developed by cold-weather expert Gordon Giesbrecht — popularly known as "Professor Popsicle" — from the University of Manitoba.
In a real emergency, students could be outside for upwards of 25 minutes, waiting for school buses to take them home.
So Mark Blieske, an industrial arts teacher, contacted Giesbrecht about ways to stay warm.
"We always thought the buses would be a good solution," Blieske told CBC News.
"We realized that having been out there in the cold weather … that wasn't the good solution."
To help them stay protected from the cold, Giesbrecht came up with a simple but effective design using a large sheet of plastic marked with dots where poles are quickly placed to hold up the makeshift tent.
"Then we tuck in the sides and it's like a little greenhouse," explained Grade 8 student Abbey Thickson.
Inside the tarps, the temperature rose from 0 C to 15 C within 10 minutes, according to Thickson's measurements.
While it was not very cold in Lockport on Tuesday, it does not take much to get frostbite in typical Manitoba winter conditions.
For example, if the temperature outside was –25 C and winds were at 30 kilometres an hour, exposed skin could freeze in about 10 minutes.
"In that kind of condition, you could very easily have cases of frostbite," Giesbrecht said.