Groups and organizations, especially those providing services to at-risk groups, should develop a plan for how they will handle cold weather to ensure that everyone will stay safe.
What to include in your plan:
- Check Environment & Climate Change Canada website for information on your local forecast and weather alerts or download the WeatherCAN mobile app.
- Consider limiting the duration of outdoor activities or rescheduling them when the temperature or wind chill may present a risk of hypothermia and/or frostbite (i.e., -10 or colder). This will depend on the length of time outside, how cold the temperature/windchill is, the protective clothing the people have and the vulnerability of those involved.
- In general, when properly dressed there are little to no health concerns when the windchill is between 0 and -9. When the windchill is between -10 and -27, the risk of hypothermia and frostbite increases when outside for more than 30 minutes especially without proper protection. At colder temperatures frostbite or hypothermia can occur even sooner. This will depend on the length of time outside, how cold the temperature/windchill is, the protective clothing people have and the vulnerability of those involved.
- Babies and toddlers are more at risk of harm from cold since they don’t move as much and can’t tell us when they are cold.
- During cold conditions, groups and organizations especially those providing service to infants and young children (0 to 5 years) could consider limiting the duration of outdoor activities or rescheduling them.
- The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends keeping children indoors at a windchill of -27 or colder and reducing the amount of time outdoors at -15 degrees Celsius or colder.
- Ensuring availability of warm drinks.
- Ensuring children are dressed warmly, covering exposed skin.
- Scheduling warm-up breaks for outdoor workers.
- Training for staff to recognize and treat symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia.
- Follow Toronto Public Health’s tips to stay warm in cold weather.
Groups and organizations should also develop an emergency plan in case of power outages during the winter.