Based on Environment and Climate Change Canada’s forecast, the Medical Officer of Health issued an Extreme Cold Weather Alert (ECWA) today for Toronto in anticipation of colder weather conditions within the next 24 hours or longer. The ECWA will be in effect until further notice.
ECWAs are issued to ensure Toronto residents take necessary precautions to stay safe from the cold. In addition, ECWAs activate local services that focus on getting and keeping vulnerable residents inside. Additional space will be activated at Warming Centres during ECWAs. The City’s Streets to Homes Program will also provide enhanced street outreach response to help support and encourage those living outside to come indoors.
Warming Centres are open by 7 p.m. the day the ECWA is issued and remain open continuously until noon on the day an alert is terminated. The City is activating the following Warming Centres when an ECWA is issued:
The City’s 2021/2022 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.
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. The Medical Officer of Health may also consider other weather-related factors when issuing ECWAs.
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:
More information and tips for staying warm during cold weather are available on the City’s Extreme Cold Weather webpage.
Information to help residents prepare for extreme weather and weatherproof their homes is available at Toronto.ca/ExtremeWeatherReady.
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