Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Extreme Cold Weather Alert Jan 2012

The City of #Toronto issued an Extreme Cold Weather Alert on Jan 2, 2012 and asked that homeless people seek warm places to go. The frosty weather is hitting the low -20's with the infamous cold chill factored in to the mix. Downtown was definitely less busy on the streets with the combination cold weather and end of Christmas and Boxing Week sales. I only saw a couple of homeless people out panhandling and one was asleep under a sleeping bag on Bay Street.

The Alerts are issued by Toronto when Environment Canada calls for temperatures below -15 degrees Celsius or sudden drops in temperature, issues a wind chill warning for Toronto or predicts blizzards, ice storms or other extreme weather conditions. People can call 311 to find available shelter and resources. 
Steam grates are favourites spots for the homeless

The City advises that "During an Extreme Cold Weather Alert, street outreach workers continue to urge people to go inside and provide transportation to shelters or overnight respite. In addition to ongoing outreach, during an alert:
• Shelters relax any existing service restrictions.
• Street outreach is increased, focusing solely on warning clients of danger and transporting them to warm places.
• TTC tokens are available at a number of drop-ins so people have transportation to shelters.
• More than 100 agencies are advised of the impending extreme weather, asked to relax any service restrictions they may have, and are reminded of the danger this poses to vulnerable clients.
• 172 shelter spaces are added."
From mid December 2011

It only seemed like yesterday that the last heat alert was called by Toronto's Medical Officer of Health (actually it was August 1, 2011). It was called off the next day by Dr. David McKeown.

"During a Heat Alert, the public is encouraged to call or visit family, friends and neighbours, especially isolated adults and seniors who are at greater risk of suffering from heat-related illness, to make sure they are cool and drinking plenty of fluids. Other groups at risk include people with chronic and pre-existing illnesses, infants and young children, people on certain medications and those who are marginally housed or homeless.

The public is advised to "Beat the Heat" by taking these precautions:
- Drink lots of water or natural fruit juices; do not wait to feel thirsty.
- Go to air-conditioned places, including shopping malls or one of many local libraries or community centres located in each neighbourhood.
- Wear loose fitting, light coloured clothing made of breathable fabric.
- Stay out of the sun.
- Reduce strenuous physical outdoor activity, especially between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Never leave the elderly, children or pets unattended in a car."

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