Toronto police are looking at freezing weather as a possible factor in the death of a man, who was found behind a shopping plaza late Monday night.

Police told CP24 that the 51-year-old man had medical conditions that may have led to his death, but investigators are exploring whether hypothermia played a role.

The man was found near Markham Road and McNicoll Avenue. His death is not suspicious in nature.

With an extreme cold weather alert still in effect, Torontonians awakened Tuesday to some of the coldest temperatures of the winter season.

As the temperature dropped to -13 C overnight with a wind chill of -25 and flurries, the weather posed a danger to some of Toronto’s most vulnerable residents.

Street outreach workers patrolled the city’s downtown core, looking for homeless people who were spending the night in frigid weather.

The workers offered rides to shelters as they urged homeless people to head indoors. Still, some chose to spend the night wrapped up in blankets as they slept on metal grates that spewed warm air.

During an alert, shelters open additional spaces to accommodate more people who want to escape the cold.

Torontonians who see someone who is in need of assistance are asked to call 311, a non-emergency line. If it is an emergency, dial 911.

According to Environment Canada, the frostbite risk is low when the wind chill is between -10 and -27, unless a person is exposed to the cold for a significant period of time.

There is a risk of hypothermia if a person is outside for long periods without adequate protection, the weather agency said.

Bundle up

To protect themselves, people should dress in layers of warm clothing, including an outer layer that is wind-resistant, a hat, mittens or insulated gloves, a scarf and insulated, waterproof footwear.

Here are some additional tips from Toronto EMS:

  • Stand up and move around to allow circulation to reach all body parts
  • Sitting on cold concrete can increase the risk of hypothermia; sitting on a blanket or portable seat will limit the risk
  • Drink fluids such as hot chocolate to avoid dehydration
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages

This is the first extreme cold weather alert of the season. By this time last year, the city had already issued four alerts.

Whiteout conditions

In some parts of southern Ontario, including Highway 400 north of Toronto, whiteout conditions were reported at times. There were multiple reports of vehicles sliding into ditches.

Environment Canada warned motorists to be prepared for poor winter driving conditions, including heavy snow and reduced visibility.

Snow squall warnings or watches were in effect through Barrie, Georgian Bay and the Lake Huron shoreline.

The frigid weather was causing other problems for motorists.

CAA South Central Ontario said it expects up to 5,000 requests to boost vehicles that won’t start up after being left unplugged overnight.

By 9 a.m., CAA had received 1,000 calls for service, including dead vehicle batteries, leading to lengthy waits.

Pet safety

Because the cold weather can be dangerous for pets, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is offering a number of tips that people can follow to keep their pets safe during cold spells.

Cats should be kept indoors at all times, dog walking should be kept to a minimum and dogs with short coats should wear some extra protection if they venture outside, according to the organization.

Pets should not be left outside for extended periods.

Because cats are known to seek warmth under vehicle hoods, people should bang on the hood or honk their vehicle’s horn before starting the engine, the OSPCA said.

Cold spell to last a few more days

The cold spell is expected to last through the weekend, but there may be some relief as early as Monday.

For Tuesday, Environment Canada is predicting an afternoon high of -10 C and flurries, but it will be even colder with the wind chill. The overnight low will be -18 C.

For the rest of the week, daytime highs will range between -10 C and -6 C, and overnight lows will dip to -17 C to -13 C.

It appears the weather will begin to return to normal Sunday, when a high of -3 C is expected. Things are looking even better for Monday, with Environment Canada predicting a high of 1 C.

Normal temperatures for this time of year are highs of -2 C and lows of -10 C.

In northern Ontario, wind chill values of -45 to -55 were reported Tuesday morning.

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