Extreme cold warning issued for Waterloo-Wellington
With wind chill values near -30 degrees Celsius expected to develop overnight, Environment Canada has issued an extreme cold warning for the Region of Waterloo and Wellington County.
Temperatures are expected to fall rapidly through the day Friday reaching their icy peak overnight.
The freezing conditions are creating concern for people without a home and shelters in the region already straining under the burden of COVID-19 cases.
oneROOF Youth Services operates a 18-bed shelter in Kitchener with 10 overflow spaces. CEO Sandy Dietrich-Bell says clients are rapid tested on arrival and COVID-positive people are placed with other COVID-postive people.
"We make every attempt to make sure that everyone is wearing PPE, we sanitize everything, we're doing the best we can, but certainly congregate living and congregate space makes it a challenge," said Dietrich-Bell. "But it's certainly better than freezing to death."
Dietrich-Bell says if oneROOF is unable to shelter someone, staff will contact another shelter and try to find a place for the person to stay.
During daytime hours, when emergency shelters are closed, the Region of Waterloo operates several warming shelters. Warming centre locations and hours are listed here.
A reprieve from extreme cold conditions is expected to begin Saturday morning.
Saturday's daytime high in Kitchener is set to be -14 C, but the wind chill will make it feel more like -29 C in the morning and -22 C in the afternoon.
"Extreme cold puts everyone at risk," Environment Canada said in a weather alert.
The public is advised to dress warmly in layers, cover exposed skin and wear a wind resistant outer layer if venturing outside.
Frostbite can develop within minutes on exposed skin, especially with wind chill, Environment Canada said.