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Staying Safe when Air Quality is Poor


Air Quality2023 Blog Website Card

Over the past few weeks, we have experienced fluctuating temperatures along with thick, smoky air. While extreme weather conditions put everyone at risk, some groups are made more vulnerable than others, including people experiencing homelessness. Let’s look at some ways we can all stay healthy over the warmer months ahead.

What are Extreme Weather Warnings?

  • A Heat Warning is issued in Waterloo Region when two consecutive days are forecasted with temperatures over 31C in the day and 20C at night, or two consecutive days where the humidex (a combination of heat and humidity to reflect how hot we feel when outside) is forecasted to be over 40C.
  • A Special Air Quality Statement is issued in the region if a high-risk air quality health index is forecasted for Waterloo Region for one to two hours. A Smog and Air Health Advisory is issued if a high-risk air quality health index is forecasted for Waterloo Region for more than three hours.


What are some ways to stay protected?

  • Prepare for Extreme Weather
    1. There are many ways that you can prepare yourself and stay safe during hot weather in the region. If you have access to a phone or computer, you can:
    2. Sign up for email alerts from Environment Canada
    3. Download the mobile WeatherCAN App
    4. View current Environment Canada public weather alerts
    5. Watch public weather broadcasts/news stations
  • Limit Exposure Outdoors
    • You can view this Interactive Map of over 40 Warming and Cooling Centres in Waterloo Region that provide temporary relief from the weather and range from public libraries to community centres, arenas and museums. For less temporary support, you can also visit this page to learn more about the Region of Waterloo’s list of Emergency Shelters.
  • Wear an N95 Mask
    • In times of poor air quality, including from wildfire smoke, wearing an N95 mask can provide some protection from pollutants in the air.

More Information

For more assistance and information on these topics, the Region of Waterloo has compiled this list of additional resources:

If you need help with immediate housing needs, contact Lutherwood’s Housing Services and a staff member will be happy to assist you.

"I am in awe of the courage it takes for someone with a mental illness to get out of bed and just try again; even when life feels impossible. Mental illness is isolating. I want to thank Lutherwood for being there and helping my daughter. I am so grateful, and so proud to be her mom."