Just when you thought spring had sprung, the City of Toronto has issued an extreme cold weather alert.
Based on information from Environment Canada, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Toronto’s Acting Medical Officer of Health, has issued an alert today for Toronto that will be in effect until further notice.
The City’s alerts are issued when the temperature is forecast to reach -15ºC or colder, or when the wind chill is forecast to reach -20 or colder.
Environment Canada forecasts a high of 12ºC, but the temperatures are expected to dip to -12ºC tonight and wind gusts of up to 50 km/hr are expected.
According to the City, exposure to cold weather can be harmful to your health. It can result in hypothermia, which occurs when the body’s core temperature drops below 35°C, and frostbite, which can also occur in cold weather when skin freezes and in severe cases can lead to amputation when deeper tissues freeze.
During the alert, the City asks that residents help vulnerable people by calling 311 if there is a need for street outreach assistance.
In extreme cold weather alert situations, members of the public are encouraged to take the following precautions:
• Check the weather report before going outside.
• Dress in layers, making sure your outer layer is windproof, and cover exposed skin.
• Wear a hat, warm mittens or gloves, and warm boots.
• Stay dry. Your risk of hypothermia is much greater if you are wet.
• Choose wool or synthetic fabrics for your clothes instead of cotton, because cotton stops keeping you warm once it gets wet.
• Seek shelter if you normally spend long periods outside. Depending on the wind chill, exposed skin can freeze in minutes.
• Drink warm fluids, other than alcohol.
• Warm up by taking regular breaks in heated buildings when enjoying winter activities outside.
• Consider rescheduling outdoor activities, or limiting time outdoors, during colder temperatures, especially if it’s windy.
• Heat your home to at least 21ºC if infants or elderly people are present.
• Call or visit vulnerable friends, neighbours and family to ensure they are not experiencing any difficulties related to the weather.
So much for the first days of spring…