County warming centers open as snow/sleet storm approaches
Winter storms pose a real challenge for the county's homeless, especially with many opportunities to find shelter at local institutions like libraries, and even some restaurants, being closed because of the pandemic. In response to inclement weather and a major winter storm expected to arrive Wednesday, Anne Arundel County has opened warming centers overnight from 9:00 p.m. on Monday, December 14, 2020 through 9:00 am Saturday morning, December 19, 2020 in response to extremely cold forecast temperatures. Currently several inches of snow and sleet may arrive on Wednesday, December 16, in two waves during the day and evening. The National Weather Service is forecasting temperatures in the mid 30s and high 20s with wind chill values in the low 20s and teens. The following locations will be available to provide warming relief: "It's a big plus," said Arundel House of Hope case worker, Larry Geidel, of the warming centers. "It takes them (the homeless) off the streets. They're living in tents and on benches. It gives them a nice warm place to go." Geidel's only regret was that the warming centers were usually only kept open for three days at a time, he thought due to funding limits. But they do give those who need it a warm, sheltered indoor location to ride out bad weather. Some snacks are also normally available to those at the centers, as well as a breakfast to those who overnight there. Geidel has been has been helping those in need since 1992, he said. he has seen how the warming centers have helped his clients. Some people might be put up at Red Roof Inn through an existing program, depending on availability, he noted. "It's a good system," he said. Anne Arundel County Police will designate District Station Community Rooms at the following precincts as warming centers overnight from 9:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. Monday, December 14, 2020 through Saturday morning, December 19, 2020: Northern District: 939 Hammonds Lane, Baltimore Eastern District: 204 Pasadena Rd, Pasadena Western District: 8273 Telegraph Road, Odenton Southern District: 35 Stepneys Lane, Edgewater All centers are accessible and have water and restroom facilities. Medical care is not available and anyone experiencing or observing a medical emergency should call 9-1-1. Pets are not allowed in any warming centers. Accommodations will be made for service animals. Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times. COVID-19 guidance must be adhered to including social distancing and wearing face coverings. The Office of Emergency Management encourages residents to exercise caution during extremely cold temperatures. Whether inside or outside, cold weather can be dangerous to those who are not prepared to properly handle it. Advanced hypothermia (decreased core body temperature) can be accompanied by stiffness, excessive shivering, confusion, slurred speech, numbness, or a weak pulse. Watch for changes in levels of consciousness and motor coordination, indicated by stumbles, mumbles, fumbles, and grumbles. Symptoms of frostbite (skin damage due to cold temperatures) include gradual numbness, pale or purple skin, hard (wooden) skin, or a tingling or burning feeling in the impacted area. Call 9-1-1 if you or someone you know may be suffering from hypothermia or frostbite.
Children, older adults, and people with poor circulatory systems are at particular risk for hypothermia or frostbite. The Department of Health offers the following tips to help residents cope with winter conditions when outside: Layer your clothing to have more flexibility and control over how warm you stay. Avoid cotton clothing for winter activities. Prepare for the unexpected. Most hypothermia cases occur due to an unexpected change in the weather or temperature. Wear a warm hat; up to 50 percent of body heat is lost through the head. Avoid getting wet when the temperature dips. Wear waterproof boots or shoes to keep your feet dry. Drink plenty of water. Avoid nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol. Residents should also be aware of the risks cold weather poses when inside homes and buildings. The Anne Arundel County Fire Department offers the following tips to help residents remain safe in their homes during cold conditions: Store several days’ worth of non-perishable food and bottled water. Keep several days’ worth of medications. Keep fireplaces and wood-burning stoves clean. Never leave space heaters on and unattended. Ensure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are operating properly. Check on older adults and neighbors and relatives with disabilities. In accordance with § 12-4-809. Severe weather emergencies and alerts, the County Executive has issued a Severe Weather Animal Alert. For more information please visit Anne Arundel County Animal Care & Control's website at http://www.aacounty.org/departments/animal-control or visit their page on Facebook. At risk individuals seeking warmth with concerns for their pets should contact Animal Care & Control (410) 222-8900 during normal business hours. Anyone needing special accommodations must contact Kasey Thomas at (410)703-4915 or by email to email@example.com. TTY users, please call via Maryland Relay 7-1-1. All materials are available in an alternative format upon request. --compiled from interview and Anne Arundel County press release