In the event of an imminent cold weather emergency, the Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services for the City of Springfield (SDHHS) in conjunction with Mayor Sarno will call for the activation of the Cold Weather Emergency Response Plan. The Springfield Department of Health and Human Services will be responsible for increasing awareness of cold weather precautions for the general public and those who are inadequately housed.
Prevention teams will be on the street with water and blankets. The team will respond to calls from the Springfield Police Department to assist persons who need transportation to shelter services. Cold weather “tips” will be disseminated to news media. Residents will be encouraged to call 911 to report the location of individuals who may need assistance, outreach and/or transportation to shelter locations.
The response plan will activate on December 25th through December 30th. An assessment will be made mid-week to determine if additional days are necessary. Friends of the Homeless Shelter will admit individuals who may have been banned during a cold weather emergency.
Cold weather emergency response measures will be activated at the Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services directions using the following guidelines.
- Closely monitor local news reports for updates on weather forecasts and storm impacts.
- Make sure you have a well-stocked Winter Home Emergency Supply Kit that includes flashlights, portable radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, bottled water, non-perishable food and a manual can opener.
- Minimize outside activities, particularly the elderly and very young and remember to consider your pets.
- Dress in several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing, rather than a single layer of heavy clothing. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Wear a hat, mittens and sturdy waterproof boots, protecting your extremities. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
- Excessive exposure can lead to frostbite, which is damaging to body tissue that is frozen. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes or the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, seek medical help immediately.
- Hypothermia can occur in extreme cases. The warning signs are uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. If the person’s temperature drops below 95 degrees, seek immediate medical care.
- Ensure you have sufficient heating fuel, as well as emergency heating equipment in case you lose electricity.
- When utilizing alternate heating sources, such as your fireplace, wood stove or space heater, take the necessary safety precautions. Keep a fire extinguisher handy; ensuring everyone knows how to use it properly. Test smoke alarms and Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors.
- If utilizing an emergency generator, read, understand and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Always operate emergency generators outdoors and away from any open window. Make sure your generator is properly installed and grounded as you may be liable for damage or injury to other people and property that may result from improperly installed or operated equipment.
Cold weather tips “Exposure to cold temperatures can cause serious or life threatening health problems infants and the elderly are at high risk”.
Other tips include:
- Hats are a must. The head is where 30% of the body’s heat loss takes place.
- Gloves and face protection are recommended in extremely cold weather.
- Protect your animals during the cold weather. Do not leave animals outside. Provide shelter to keep your pets warm.
- Food that needs no cooking or refrigeration.
- Water stored in clean containers.
- Medicines that any family member may need.
- If you plan to use a fireplace or wood stove for emergency heating make sure it has been inspected.
- Make sure smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detector are near the place that you are heating.
- Do not place a space heater within three feet of anything that may catch on fire.
- Do not leave children unattended near a space heater.
- Do not run cords of an electric space heater under carpets.
- Check on elderly neighbors and individuals living independently with no support system.