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Cold wave | Montreal opens two emergency shelters for people experiencing homelessness



(Montreal) The next few nights promise to be icy in the metropolis with perceived temperatures that could drop below -30. To prevent anyone experiencing homelessness from ending up outside, the City of Montreal is announcing the opening of two emergency shelters.

According to a special weather report issued by Environment Canada, the “invasion of an arctic air mass as of Thursday evening” is expected over Abitibi-Témiscamingue and it must then move towards central and southern Quebec. .

We warn against the formation of snow squalls and strong gusts. Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean and the St. Lawrence Valley should also feel the effects on Thursday evening, while the other regions south of the river could in turn be affected overnight from Thursday to Friday, warns Environment Canada. .

On the side of Météomédia, it is expected that the mercury could drop to -21 degrees Celsius on Thursday night in Montreal. Then on Friday the temperature could feel like -32 due to wind chill.

At the Montreal Regional Public Health Department, it is recalled that “in general, the health risks are higher when the perceived temperature is below -27°C”.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, the deputy medical director at the Montreal Regional Public Health Department, Dr.r David Kaiser explains that there is a sharp increase in the risks associated with the cold. In the case of homeless people, the main fear is frostbite, but also hypothermia.

“Chilblains, we understand that we can lose fingers, toes. Hypothermia can be deadly. Thursday, we expect to have -25. At these temperatures, people who are homeless can die,” he warns.

In response, Montreal is offering the homeless population two new emergency sites, a first open since Tuesday in the borough of Ville-Marie and a second which will open Thursday in the borough of Plateau Mont-Royal. These places will be able to accommodate people in need between 8 p.m. and 9 a.m. We are already planning to close these two sites after the cold snap, starting on Sunday.

These two sites are made “available to the health network and community organizations”, reads the City’s press release, “to ensure that all vulnerable people can have access to a warm place in case of overflow in refuges and heat shelters”.

In addition to these places to keep warm, Montreal announces that it will participate in a territory surveillance operation in collaboration with resources from the health network and the community.

The Montreal Police Service and members of the Mobile Social Intervention Mediation Team will be mobilized “to accompany people on the street to the appropriate accommodation services”, we are assured.

According to the data provided by the municipal authorities, a record number of 1,600 places are available this winter in shelters and drop-in centers in Montreal.

Stay warm

Public health advises the population to protect themselves well from the cold. It is emphasized that the health risks increase with the duration of exposure in extreme cold weather. More specifically, we remind you that the elderly and infants are more vulnerable to extreme cold.

People who suffer from heart disease or asthma as well as people with reduced mobility are also considered to be more vulnerable and they are advised to avoid going out during periods of intense cold.

“The mechanism called ‘thermal stress’ is that the cold will make the lungs and the heart work harder. For people who are already fragile, it can generate impacts such as heart attacks or asthma attacks, ”describes the Dr Kaiser.

For people who would be forced to go out, it is recommended to ensure that their skin and hair are dry and to wear sufficiently warm clothing. It is also suggested to protect the skin of the face “by applying a greasy cream (sunscreen or petroleum jelly)” and by wearing a scarf.

In addition, the extremities of the body must be well covered at all times. It is specified that the body can lose up to 30% of its heat just by having the head uncovered.

People who have to travel by car should provide a first aid kit including warm clothes.

The Canadian Press health content gets funding through a partnership with the Canadian Medical Association. The Canadian Press is solely responsible for editorial choices.

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