Residents are urged to take precautions starting tomorrow into Feb. 1 when temperatures will drop to a windchill of minus 32 Celsius. With information provided by Environment Canada, the city warns against health risks caused by cold and windchill.

These include frostbite and hypothermia in the most vulnerable like children, older adults, and chronic illness sufferers. People who spend a lot of time outdoors, whether that be for work or due to homelessness are also at significant risk.

Proper shelter and clothing are key to staying safe over the next few days as freezing to death is a real risk. Below are tips for staying safe and warm provided directly by the city:

During an extreme cold warning

• Call or visit vulnerable family, friends and neighbours, especially isolated seniors and ensure they have proper supplies to stay warm and dry.
• Avoid drinking alcohol. Alcohol increases blood flow, making you feel warm even though you are losing body heat.
• Winter driving has its own challenges. An emergency car kit can help. Important items to include are a cell phone charger, flashlight, blankets and sand bags, snacks, shovel, booster cables, and towing company numbers.

Appropriate clothing

• Cover exposed skin as frostbite can develop within minutes, especially with increased wind chill.
• Always wear clothing appropriate for the weather. Synthetic and wool fabrics provide better insulation. Dress in layers with a wind resistant outer layer.
• Wear warm socks, mittens, a hat and scarf and be sure to cover your nose.
• If you get wet, change into dry clothing as soon as possible. You lose heat faster when you’re wet.

If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pets

• When the temperature drops below freezing, pets should not be left outside for extended periods of time. Cats, short-haired dogs and puppies are particularly vulnerable in extreme cold temperatures.
• Never leave your cat or dog alone in a car during extreme cold weather. Cars hold in the cold, acting like refrigerators, which could cause serious harm.
• For more information and safety tips for pets and extreme cold weather, visit the Ontario SPCA’s website.

Seek shelter or local warming centre

  • Inn From the Cold Emergency Winter Shelter, and Mosaic Interfaith Out of the Cold Program are offering overnight shelter, clothing and meals to adults.
    • For more information about Inn From The Cold, visit or call 904.895.8889.
    • For more information about the Mosaic Interfaith Out of the Cold Program, call 416.948.6682 or toll free 1.877.338.3398.
    • The York Region Street Outreach Van is also travelling throughout York Region, providing assistance to homeless and at-risk individuals. The van staff provides sleeping bags, warm clothes and referrals to shelter programs. The van operates seven days a week from 2:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. To schedule a meeting place and time with the Street Outreach Van, individuals can call 1.866.553.4053.

Warming Centres Available at Markham Community Centres & Libraries

• Aaniin Community Centre & Library, 5665 14th Ave
• Angus Glen Community Centre & Library, 3990 Major Mackenzie Drive East
• Armadale Community Centre, 2401 Denison Street
• Cornell Community Centre & Library, 3201 Bur Oak Avenue
• Milliken Mills Community Centre & Library, 7600 Kennedy Road
• Thornhill Community Centre & Library, 7755 Bayview Avenue
• Centennial Community Centre, 8600 McCowan Road
• Markham Village Library, 6031 Hwy 7
• Unionville Library, 15 Library Lane

For a complete list of facilities and hours of operation, visit

For more information on emergency preparedness, visit

(Photo credit: Laurence Cruz)