Bitter cold temperatures raise safety concerns for homeless in Springfield

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CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Bitter cold temperatures sweeping across the Pioneer Valley are raising safety concerns for the homeless. The City of Springfield has activated a cold weather response team, that involves the health department, police, prevention teams and area shelters.For many of us, when we’re cold we have the option of turning up our heat, but if you’re homeless, you don’t have that option.

Springfield to implement ‘Cold Weather Response Plan’ amid frigid forecast

That’s why the City of Springfield has activated a cold weather response plan until January 30, to help its most vulnerable residents stay warm.“These are life threatening conditions, so we don’t want anyone sleeping outdoors,” said Biller Miller of Friends of the Homeless, CSO.Friends of the Homeless is the largest emergency shelter, for adults, in western Massachusetts. They offer year round shelter, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And with temperatures expecting to drop into the single digits, they’re partnering with Springfield, to make sure no one is sleeping in the bone chilling cold.

Residents react to the coldest air of the season

“We work with hospitals emergency rooms,” Miller told 22News. “We work with detoxes. Folks we’ve been here a long time. People know we’re here. And the word of mouth of people who are homeless themselves. People talk and they let each other know what services are out there.”Miller went on to say, “Prevention teams will be out on the streets handing out blankets and water. They’ll also be assisting the Springfield police department with taking people to local shelters, where they’ll be out the cold and kept warm.Springfield is encouraging residents to have a winter home emergency supply kit that includes, flashlight, portable radio, bottled water and non-perishable food. Also, minimize your outdoor activity to avoid frostbite, which can your damage body tissue. It can also lead to hypothermia.

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