Grey-Bruce is no stranger to extreme weather.
In the winter months, temperatures in Grey-Bruce can plummet to -30 degrees C or below. Frigid temperatures, heavy snowfall accumulation, and winter storms can pose a significant health risk, particularly for those who are most vulnerable in our communities.
In the summer months, Grey-Bruce can see temperatures soar above 30 degrees C. High humidity, prolonged heat waves, and rain or wind storms can also impact the health and safety of residents.
Grey Bruce Public Health, whose mission is to promote and protect the health of all residents in Grey-Bruce, has created this webpage to provide information on how extreme weather, including extreme cold or extreme heat, can affect your health and strategies to stay safe.
This webpage also includes a list of warming/cooling centres that are available in Grey-Bruce for those looking for shelter or relief from potentially dangerous outdoor temperatures.
Public Health issues media releases and uses its website and social media channels to alert community partners, the media, and residents of extreme cold or heat advisories issued by Environment & Climate Change Canada.
The potential health impacts of extreme heat and extremely cold temperatures can be serious and, in some cases, life-threatening.
Some individuals are at a higher risk of experiencing these serious health impacts.
This includes infants and seniors, individuals affected by health inequities, and people experiencing homelessness.
Others who may be disproportionally impacted by the extreme heat or extreme cold:
There are numerous public buildings in Grey-Bruce that municipalities designate as warming/cooling centres.
Many are public buildings that can be accessed, regardless of the temperature, during regular business hours. Some are available outside of normal operating hours when the area is experiencing extreme cold or heat. It’s always a good idea to check with your municipality before heading to one of these warming/cooling centres to ensure they are open.
211 maintains an updated list of warming/cooling centres in Grey-Bruce. Link to Grey County warming/cooling centres. Link to Bruce County warming/cooling centres.
Municipal facilities available during regular business hours as warming/cooling centres include:
Grey County advises residents in need of emergency shelter to call 211. Additional information on Grey County’s Short-Term Shelter Program is available at this link.
Safe ‘n Sound, located at 310 8th St. E., in Owen Sound, offers a drop-in centre, which is open Mondays to Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
These hours differ under the following circumstances:
M’Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre in Owen Sound operates an Indigenous Supportive Housing Program. More information is available at this link.
Anyone who is experiencing homelessness or is at risk of homelessness in Bruce County can contact YMCA Housing Services to connect with an outreach worker. The worker will assist in connecting people to a safe place to stay for the night and work with them to create an action plan to find and maintain long-term, sustainable housing.
YMCA Housing Services
519-371-9222 ext. 5 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Outside of these hours, residents can call 211 to be referred to the most appropriate supports.
Everyone – regardless of age, physical condition, or background – is at risk of developing a heat-related illness during an extreme heat event.
The following are potential heat illnesses and the symptoms of each.
Heat stroke, which is the most serious heat-related illness, happens when the body can no longer control its temperature. During heat stroke, the body’s temperature can rise to 40 degrees C or more within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause permanent disability or death if the person doesn’t receive emergency medical treatment.
Symptoms: Confusion, altered mental status, slurred speech, loss of consciousness, hot, dry skin or profuse sweating, seizures, very high body temperature.
The body’s response to an excessive loss of water and salt, usually through excessive sweating.
Symptoms: headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, irritability, thirst, heavy sweating, elevated body temperature, and decreased urine output.
Caused by the loss of body fluids through sweating and lowered blood pressure due to pooling of blood in the legs.
Symptoms: temporary dizziness and fainting resulting from an insufficient flow of blood to the brain while a person is standing.
Caused by a salt imbalance resulting from a failure to replace salt lost through excessive sweating.
Symptoms: sharp muscle pains.
Heat rash is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating during hot, humid weather.
Symptoms: Red clusters of pimples or small blisters can develop. They usually appear on the neck, upper chest, groin, under the breasts, and in elbow creases.
Heat-induced swelling frequently noticeable in the ankles, feet, and hands, and most often seen in people who are not regularly exposed to heat.
Heat Stress Related Illness | NIOSH | CDC
Communicating the Health Risks of Extreme Heat Events - Canada.ca
Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Call 911 immediately if someone is experiencing heat stroke and is either unconscious, confused, or has stopped sweating.
Symptoms of heat illnesses can include:
If someone is experiencing these symptoms during extreme heat, they should move to a cool place and drink liquids right away. Water is best.
While waiting for help to arrive, cool the person right away by:
Source: Health Canada.
Follow these tips to reduce the risk of a heat-related illness:
The two most common outdoor cold-weather health risks are frostbite/frostnip and hypothermia.
Frostbite & Frostnip
Frostbite occurs when a person’s skin and other tissues freeze and die because blood and oxygen can no longer circulate. Frostbite generally occurs in body parts furthest from the heart, such as the nose, ears, hands and feet.
Mild frostbite (frostnip) makes your skin look yellowish or white, but it is still soft to the touch. Your skin might turn red during the warming process, but normal colour returns once the area is warmed.
Severe frostbite can cause permanent damage to body tissue if it is not treated immediately. Nerve damage occurs and frostbitten skin becomes discoloured and turns black. After some time, nerve damage becomes so severe that you will lose feeling in the affected area and blisters will occur. If the skin is broken and becomes infected, gangrene can set in, which can result in the loss of limbs.
Mild frostbite (frostnip) can be treated in two ways:
Severe frostbite requires immediate medical attention. While you are waiting for help to arrive, begin treating it with passive and active warming.
Source: Health Canada.
Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can generate it, leading to a core body temperature that is too low (less than 35 degrees C) for regular functioning of the body. Hypothermia affects brain and muscle functions, making it difficult for a person to think clearly or move well.
There are three stages of hypothermia:
Stage 1 - When your body temperature drops by one or two degrees C, you start shivering, get goosebumps on your skin, and your hands become numb. Your breath can become quick and shallow, and you may feel tired and/or sick to your stomach. You may also experience a warm sensation, which means your body is entering Stage 2 of hypothermia.
Stage 2 - Your body temperature has dropped by two to four degrees C and your shivering is strong. Muscles are uncoordinated and movements are slow and laboured. You may suffer mild confusion, become pale, and your lips, ears, fingers, and toes may turn blue.
Stage 3 - If your body temperature drops below 32 degrees C, the shivering will stop, but you'll have trouble speaking, thinking, and walking. You may even develop amnesia. When your body temperature drops below 30 degrees C, exposed skin becomes blue and puffy, it will be hard to move your muscles and your behaviour becomes irrational. Your heart may be beating quickly, but your pulse and breathing will decrease. At this stage, you are at risk of dying.
Severe cases of hypothermia (such as stages 2 and 3) require immediate medical attention. Call 911.
The following treatment options should be followed for Stage 1 hypothermia, or while waiting for help to arrive for more severe hypothermia:
Sources: Health Canada & Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.
Cold-related injuries are preventable.Protect yourself from extreme cold conditions by following these tips:
As part of our mission to promote and protect the health of Grey-Bruce residents, Grey Bruce Public Health monitors local weather advisories from Environment & Climate Change Canada.
Environment & Climate Change Canada issues Extreme Cold Warnings for southwestern Ontario communities, including Grey-Bruce, when the temperature or wind chill is expected to reach -30 degrees C for at least two hours.
Environment & Climate Change Canada issues Heat Warnings for southern Ontario, including Grey-Bruce, when:
When an Extreme Cold Warning or Heat Warning is issued by Environment & Climate Change Canada, Grey Bruce Public Health will issue a media release containing information on the warning, the risks associated with the extreme temperatures, how people can protect themselves and others from the extreme weather, and, if possible, available warming/cooling centres available in the community.
Public Health will also alert the public about the warning via its website and social media channels. Throughout the year, Public Health will also post general information on its website and social media channels about protecting yourself from the sun, cold, heat, etc.
Share this page