An extreme cold weather alert is in effect for Toronto.

David McKeown, Toronto’s medical officer of health, issued the alert early Thursday morning. Environment Canada says temperatures are expected to drop to -12 C by the evening.

While an extreme cold weather alert is in effect, residents are encouraged to call or visit vulnerable friends, neighbours and family “to ensure they are not experiencing any difficulties related to the weather.”

Those at risk include people who work outdoors, the elderly, infants, those who are homeless and people with a pre-existing heart or respiratory condition.

Toronto residents who see someone on the street who needs outreach assistance – which may include a shelter bed – should call 311. For medical emergencies, call 911.

For information on city services available during an extreme weather alert visit the city’s website.

During an Extreme Cold Weather Alert, members of the public are encouraged to take 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 clothes instead of cotton, because cotton stops keeping you warm once it gets wet.
  • People who normally spend long periods outside should seek shelter. Depending on the wind chill, exposed skin can freeze in minutes.
  • Avoid alcohol as it increases blood flow. You may feel warm even though you are losing body heat.
  • Consider rescheduling outdoor activities, or limiting time outdoors, especially if it's windy.
  • Keep home heating at 21ºC or warmer if babies or elderly people are present.