The temperature has been cold outside, to say the least, as of late in Saskatoon.
Having the temperature rise to -3 Celsius on Sunday was a short-lived break from the extreme cold.
Pamela Goulden-McLeod, city of Saskatoon and the Saskatoon Fire Department director of emergency management, says now more than ever, Saskatoon’s cold weather strategy is imperative.
“We are seeing an increase in the homeless population this year,” Goulden-McLeod said. “The more people you are trying to support increases the risk of facilitating everyone. Five days of extremely cold temperatures really take a toll on people.”
Saskatoon Ward 1 Coun. Darren Hill says winter conditions can change rapidly and it’s important to always be prepared and plan ahead if you are travelling or even in your own home.
“Planning ahead is always best. I keep a safety kit in my vehicle at all times. It’s got extra gloves, toques, shovels candles. It’s been in there for years. Just in case,” Hill said.
“We have a lot of new residents who have moved here from other parts of the world in the last couple of years. Many of which haven’t seen snow, or experienced Saskatchewan winters. It usually doesn’t stay warm for long. Expect cold.”
Medavie Health Services also issued some safety tips for people to combat the extreme cold stretches. They include being winter ready with your vehicle by having ice scrapers and snowbrushes, keeping your washer fluid topped up, and storing extra blankets or layers of clothing in your vehicle. In terms of driving, know the road conditions or weather before heading out on the road, and drive according to road conditions.
As for walking, watch out for wet or icy surfaces and do not carry bulky items that may affect your balance.
Goulden-McLeod said 24/7 access is key to keeping people out of the cold and alive during extreme cold stretches. Even a couple of hours of exposure to that weather can be fatal.
“We are continuing to work with partners to see how we can expand those locations and provide overnight options,” Goulden-McLeod said. “Over the last few days, we have been working really well together. If a shelter is full, they share that info with us and we problem solve on how we can meet people’s needs.”
With winter not even officially starting until later on in December, there are bound to be more extreme cold snaps mixed in with warmups. But as anyone who has lived in Saskatchewan knows the weather can change on a dime’s notice.
According to Environment Canada, Monday has a daytime high of -20 C with Tuesday around -27 C. Nighttime lows will be even colder.