Cold Weather Alerts
Goal of the Cold Weather Response Plan
The goal of the Cold Weather Response Plan is to prevent harmful health impacts of cold weather on residents of Toronto.
The Cold Weather Response Plan provides a framework for implementing and co-ordinating cold weather preparedness and response activities which focus on reducing the negative health impacts of cold weather conditions. The Plan’s main objectives are to:
- alert those most vulnerable that cold weather conditions are either expected or currently exist;
- enable those most vulnerable to take appropriate precautions;
- trigger response actions by agencies who are in a position to provide services or alter operations in such a way as to protect vulnerable people from cold weather.
The Plan includes a particular focus on preventing direct impacts of cold exposure on people experiencing homelessness.
Extreme Cold Weather Alerts
Extreme Cold Weather Alerts will be declared by the Medical Officer of Health when conditions are expected to be associated with elevated health risks for vulnerable individuals. The intent of calling an alert is to:
- Warn people who are vulnerable to cold weather and their service providers and caregivers that such conditions are expected or already exist in the City;
- Urge vulnerable people to take measures to protect their health;
- Trigger response activities by City and community partners to protect vulnerable people within the city (e.g., enhance services).
The Cold Weather Response Plan is in effect each year between November 15 and April 15.
During this time period, the Medical Officer of Health issues an Extreme Cold Weather Alert when Environment Canada forecasts temperatures of -15 degrees celsius or colder or wind chill of -20 or colder in the next 24 hours.
When issuing an Extreme Cold Weather Alert, the Medical Officer of Health also considers other factors that increase the impact of cold weather on health such as precipitation, low daytime temperatures, days/nights of cold weather in a row, and sudden cold weather.
A cold weather alert may not necessarily translate into the need for an indoor recess as there is a low to moderate risk of frostbite. Staff should be encouraged to remind students to dress appropriately for the weather conditions, and principals should monitor local weather conditions and refer to the Board’s Weather Conditions Protocol for guidance.
When in doubt, check with your superintendent.