Multiple public health agencies in the Greater Toronto Area have issued cold weather alerts, and officials are encouraging people at risk to take special precautions after temperatures dropped significantly.
The alerts are typically issued when temperatures are forecast to be -15 C or colder, or when it feels like -20 C with the wind chill.
“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,” a statement from Toronto Public Health said.
“Frostbite can also occur in cold weather when skin freezes and in severe cases can lead to amputation when deeper tissues freeze.”
According to Environment Canada’s forecast, the daytime high in Toronto on Tuesday will be -11 C. The overnight low will drop to -17 C and it will feel like -25 C. On Wednesday, the forecast daytime high is -11 C and the overnight low should drop to -21 C.
Those who are homeless, work outdoors, elderly or young children are particularly at risk for cold-related illnesses, as well as those who have pre-existing heart or respiratory conditions.
Toronto Public Health suggested taking the following precautions:
• 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 21 C 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.
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