AIDS Saskatoon drop-in centre ‘standing room only’ as extreme cold warning remains in effect
Broadway Bridge as steam rises from the South Saskatchewan River.
SASKATOON -- City officials and local agencies are preparing for the worst as Saskatoon faces another day of dangerously cold temperatures.
"Here in the city of Saskatoon, some of our major risks that have the biggest impact on our citizens and on our operations are the weather,” said Pamela Goulden-McLeod with the City of Saskatoon’s Emergency Measures Organization.
“And I think in Saskatchewan, we're quite used to cold weather, and sometimes we just have to be reminded that it's really cold outside and there's some extra steps we need to take for that."
Environment Canada has issued an extreme cold warning for the area. Temperatures are dipping into the -30 C range, feeling more like -40 with the wind chill.
Goulden-McLeod is warning people to be prepared and to make sure pets aren’t outside for too long.
She said it’s also a good idea to have an emergency kit at home that would last for three days.
"You want to make sure that you have a way to communicate. Make sure you have backup chargers for you cellphones and we want to make sure that you have enough water all the time.
“And the other piece of that is medications. People often forget that you need to know your medications, you need to have a list of them and important documents in your 72-hour plan."
The city’s Cold Weather Strategy has been in effect since Jan. 8. It ensures homeless people and other vulnerable groups have a warm, safe place to stay.
Some agencies are acting as warm up locations during the day to help take some of the pressure off overnight shelters.
AIDS Saskatoon is one of them and Kayla DeMong, associate executive director and family support coordinator, said its drop-in centre is open from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
"It was very packed in here today - standing room only, people all the way down the halls, packed in as many people as we possibly could to get out of the cold. Many of the people that come here, come here every day, all day because they have nowhere else to go,” she said.
The city is also reminding people to check in on friends, family and neighbours.
"How are they doing? They have everything they need? In Saskatchewan, we're really good at working together and looking out for each other ... and so this is just one of those times of a heigtened check in on your friends and relatives and neighbours.”
The extreme cold warning is expected to remain at least through Wednesday, with temperatures reaching a high of -26 C and a low of -38 C.