Based on Environment and Climate Change Canada’s forecast, the Office of Emergency Management, in consultation with the Medical Officer of Health, has issued an Extreme Cold Weather Alert (ECWA) today for Toronto in anticipation of the cold weather conditions within the next 24 hours. The ECWA will be in effect until further notice.
ECWAs are issued when the temperature in the daily forecast suggests temperatures will reach approximately -15 degrees Celsius or colder, or when the wind chill is forecast to reach -20 or colder. Other weather-related factors may also be considered when issuing ECWAs.
ECWAs activate local services that focus on getting and keeping vulnerable residents inside. The City activated its Warming Centres on February 7 and they will remain open during the ECWA. Additional Streets to Homes teams who were also activated on February 7 will continue to provide enhanced street outreach response to help support and encourage those living outside to come indoors.
The Warming Centres are located at the following:
All services at the Warming Centres are delivered following ongoing COVID-19 protocols to ensure the safety of those using the centres. This includes ensuring physical distancing of resting spaces, encouraging physical distancing in all areas of the facility, the mandatory use of masks, ensuring hand washing, conducting symptom screening and monitoring, increasing infection control and prevention measures such as enhanced cleaning, and providing transportation to isolation and recovery sites for individuals that await results or test positive.
The City’s 2020/2021 winter services plan to provide safe indoor spaces and protect people sleeping outdoors from cold weather includes:
The City asks residents to contact 311 if they see a person experiencing homelessness in need of assistance and the City will dispatch an outreach team to investigate. If the person is in distress or needs immediate assistance, call 911.
To access a shelter, call 311 or Central Intake at 416-338-4766, 1-877-338-3398 toll-free.
Throughout the year, 24-hour respite sites provide meals, places to rest, and service referrals at locations across the city. People can call 311 for locations and to connect to Central Intake for a referral. Homeless Help lists site information at toronto.ca/homelesshelp.
Exposure to cold weather can be harmful to your health. Hypothermia occurs when the body’s core temperature drops below 35 degrees Celsius and can have severe consequences, including organ failure and death. Frostbite can also occur in cold weather when skin freezes and, in severe cases, can lead to amputation when deeper tissues freeze.
Those most at risk of cold-related illness are people experiencing homelessness or those under-housed, those who work outdoors, people with a pre-existing heart condition or respiratory illness, elderly people, infants and young children. People with heart problems can experience worsening of their condition up to several days after cold weather occurs.
During an ECWA, members of the public are encouraged to take the following precautions:
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