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June 9, 2008
Heat Alert upgraded to Extreme Heat Alert, Cooling Centres Open
Dr. David McKeown, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health has upgraded yesterday’s Heat Alert to an Extreme Heat Alert for today. The Extreme Heat Alert will be in effect until further notice.

During an Extreme Heat Alert, the public is encouraged to call or visit family, friends and neighbours, especially isolated adults and seniors who are at greater risk of suffering from heat-related illness. Other at risk groups include people with chronic illnesses, including mental illness, infants and young children, people on certain medications and those who are marginally housed or homeless.

In addition to using air conditioned shopping malls, local libraries and neighbourhood community centres as places to cool off, six Cooling Centres are open during Extreme Heat Alerts for those in need.

• Metro Hall, 55 John St. (John and King), open 24 hours
• East York Civic Centre, 850 Coxwell Ave. (Coxwell and Mortimer), open 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
• North York Civic Centre, 5100 Yonge St. (Yonge and Sheppard), open 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
• Etobicoke Olympium, 590 Rathburn Rd. (Rathburn west of Renforth), open 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
• Heron Park Community Centre, 292 Manse Rd. (Lawrence east of Morningside), open 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
• Centennial Recreation Centre, 1967 Ellesmere Rd. (Ellesmere west of Markham), open 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Water and snacks are available at the six cooling centres.

The public is also advised to “Beat the Heat” by taking these precautions:
• Drink lots of water and natural fruit juices.
• Go to air conditioned places, including shopping malls or one of many local libraries and community centres located in each neighbourhood.
• Stay out of the blazing sun or heat.
• Reduce strenuous physical outdoor activity, especially between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
• Never leave the elderly, children or pets unattended in a car.

Landlords of buildings without air conditioning are encouraged to provide a dedicated cooling room for residents to escape the heat.

Those in need of assistance or have heat related inquiries may call the Canadian Red Cross Heat Information Line at 416-480-2615 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Toronto Emergency Medical Services (EMS) will respond to non-emergency requests made through the Heat Information Line to conduct in-home medical and environmental assessments and education to those at risk of heat-related illness.

For more information about How to Beat the Heat, visit

Often high air pollution occurs during hot weather conditions. People with heart and lung conditions, seniors and children should pay special attention to the hourly Air Quality Health Index levels and forecasts available at

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. In the past three years, Toronto has won more than 70 awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. Toronto’s government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Media contacts:
Susan Sperling, Toronto Public Health, 416-338-7974,
Tanya Elliott, Canadian Red Cross, 905-890-1000 ext. 202 or pager 416-442-1948

For information about the Cooling Centres:
Elaine Smyer, Manager, Emergency Planning, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration, 416-397-1384,

Backgrounder - Toronto Cooling Centres open in response to an Extreme Heat Alert

During an Extreme Heat Alert, Toronto Public Health activates the City’s Hot Weather Response Plan and Shelter, Support and Housing Administration Division opens six emergency cooling centres located at Metro Hall, East York Civic Centre, North York Civic Centre, Etobicoke Olympium, Heron Park Community Centre and Centennial Recreation Centre.

Cooling Centres are managed by the City of Toronto and operated by two groups, the Innovators Council and the Lions Club. Although there are air-conditioned libraries and community centres throughout the city where people can get reprieve from the heat, the formal Cooling Centres offer additional air-conditioned places to rest and drinker-hydrate with a drink of water. Centres continue to operate until Toronto Public Health declares the Extreme Heat Alert to be over.

The Centres are open for all citizens of Toronto. Seniors are most often at risk during periods of extreme heat.

In 2007 there were five Extreme Heat Alerts; in 2006 there were eight.

Hours of operation
During an Extreme Heat Alert, Metro Hall is open 24 hours and the other six locations are open from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. Cooling Centres are designed as places to rest and allow the body to cool down. Two hours is usually enough time to regulate the body’s temperature, but people are welcome to stay longer if they wish.

Cooling Centre services
People are invited to sit in the Cooling Centres until they no longer feel the effects of the heat. If feeling ill from the heat, visitors can ask for a cot to lie down on or for help getting medical attention. Water, juice and a light snack are available, as are tips on keeping cool and summer safety and information on heat related issues. Normally, only working animals are normally permitted in City facilities; during Extreme Heat Alerts pets are welcome to join their owners at Cooling Centres. For the comfort and safety of all visitors, pets must be leashed and under the owner’s control at all times. Owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets.

For more information about Cooling Centres:
Elaine Smyer, Manager, Emergency Planning, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration Division, City of Toronto, 416-397-1384, 416-714-2730 (pager)



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