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Shelters Open as Bitter Cold Temperatures Take Hold


The American Red Cross and other local organizations are supporting communities affected by the severe cold weather, by opening shelters for residents who need assistance. Across much of the country this week, people are experiencing bitter cold temperatures that plunge down as low as negative 40 degrees with the wind chill in some parts.

Thursday night 17 shelters were open in nine states with more than 240 people seeking warmth and safety. Red Cross shelters provide families and individuals refuge from the freezing temperatures, a safe place to sleep, a warm meal, and a chance to power up devices such as cell phones.

To find an open shelter in your community this weekend, visit the Red Cross shelter map or call your local emergency management agency.


To stay safe during the cold, follow these steps:

  • Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing body heat.
  • Don’t forget family pets – bring them indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
  • Avoid frozen pipes - run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent them from freezing. Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Keep the garage doors closed if there are water lines in the garage.
  • Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night to help avoid freezing pipes.
  • Download the Red Cross First Aid App for quick, expert advice on what to do in case of a cold emergency such as frostbite or hypothermia. This free app is available on the Apple iTunes or Google Play stores.

    During extremely cold weather, the risk for a fire in someone’s home can increase. To avoid fire danger, people should remember the following:

  • Never use a stove or oven to heat the home.
  • If using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away – things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs. Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.
  • If using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
  • Use generators correctly – never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage.
  • Don’t hook a generator up to the home’s wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment someone wants to power directly to the outlets on the generator.
  • Learn more about home fire safety.

    About the American Red Cross:

    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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