Cold Weather

When the temperature drops to -15 Celsius and below or feels like -20 Celsius with the wind chill, Niagara Region:

  • Adds extra shifts for the Niagara Assertive Street Outreach team, when staffing is available, to check on people experiencing unsheltered homelessness and connect them with the services they need
  • Increases capacity at Regionally-operated shelters: Riordon Street Shelter and Summer Street Shelter
  • Provides free rides on Niagara Region Transit conventional buses in Niagara Falls, St. Catharines and Welland for residents travelling to Regionally-operated shelters or municipal facilities to stay warm

Cold weather relief

Many municipal recreational facilities are open to the public to get warm during extreme cold. This includes libraries and community centres. These are not emergency shelters with community supports and services.

For places to get warm and hours of operation, visit your city/town.


Call 211 Ontario to:

  • Connect with someone from the Niagara Assertive Street Outreach team
  • Get housing and homelessness resources in Niagara
  • Answer questions or concerns about someone experiencing unsheltered homelessness during cold weather

Protect yourself during cold weather

During cold weather, everyone is at risk, but those most at risk of developing a cold-related illness include infants and children, seniors, people living in poverty or without shelter, and people who work or exercise outdoors. To protect yourself:

  • Stay in a heated building
  • Dress appropriately by wearing a hat and covering exposed skin
  • Stay dry by wearing waterproof footwear and clothing
  • Wear multiple layers of clothing
  • Keep children indoors if the temperature falls below -15 degrees Celsius without the windchill or feels like -20 degrees Celsius with the wind chill
  • Check on neighbours who are at risk
  • Take shelter from the wind
  • Drink warm fluids but avoid caffeinated or alcoholic drinks
  • Limit time sitting by moving around
  • Use caution when shovelling snow especially those with medical conditions

Health effects during extreme cold temperatures

There are two major health risks of extreme cold.

  • Frostbite
    • Symptoms include white / grayish area, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy with numbness
    • Seek immediate medical attention
    • In extreme cold weather, exposed skin can become frostbitten in 30 seconds
  • Hypothermia
    • Symptoms / signs include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling or uncoordinated movements, memory loss, slurred speech or drowsiness

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