After a messy day of freezing rain, the City of Toronto has issued an extreme cold weather alert on Wednesday morning.
Based on information from Environment Canada, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Toronto’s Acting Medical Officer of Health, issued the alert, which is in effect until further notice.
According to the City, extreme cold weather 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.
The alert is a warning that exposure to the cold can be harmful to your health, and hypothermia and frostbite can occur.
Environment Canada shows the day time high at 1 degrees, but the lows are dipping to -13 with winds up to 20 km per hour.
The City has activated local services that include additional shelter beds, notification to community agencies to relax any service restrictions, availability of transit tokens in some drop-ins, and overnight street outreach.
Additionally, between December 15, 2016, and March 15, 2017, two cold weather drop-ins will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
During an Extreme Cold Weather Alert, the City recommends members of the public to:
• 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.