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What the city and county are doing to prep for the cold weather blast

Posted at 3:27 PM, Jan 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-29 15:27:44-05

CLEVELAND — Officials with the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County held a joint news conference Tuesday ahead of the expected arctic blast that covered topics including shelters for the homeless, ensuring the safety of older adults, preventing frostbite and hypothermia, ensuring your home is heated safely and preventing frozen pipes.

Homeless Shelters and Warming Centers

Darnell Brown, the Chief Operating Officer for the City of Cleveland, emphasized that the city will not be turning anyone away during the extreme cold temperatures this week. In the city, there are 22 rec centers that will be open during normal hours, 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., and will serve as warming centers at that time.

The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless also said no individual or family seeking shelter will be turned away.

Matt Carroll, the Chief Economic Growth and Opportunity Officer for Cuyahoga County, said that the city, county and other partners have been building supportive housing for chronically homeless individuals. He said they intend to serve everyone, and are working with their partners to provide increased services for those who need them.

Those seeking shelter are encouraged to call 211 for help for emergency shelter information. The NEOCH also released this list of shelters and drop-in centers:

-Single men should go to 2100 Lakeside Avenue
-Single women should go to 2227 Payne Avenue, the Norma Herr Women’s Center
-Families should to go Coordinated Intake or call 211 First Call for Help
-The Metanoia Project for "hard-core homeless people unwilling/unable to access shelters" extends its service beyond the weekend:

  • Tuesday 1/29 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. the following day
  • Wednesday 1/30 3 p.m. to 7 a.m. the following day
  • Thursday 1/31 3 p.m. to 7 a.m. the following day
  • Friday 2/1 from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. the following day

Daytime Drop-In
When temperatures are below 20 degrees, clients are not required to leave the shelter during the day.

Other Drop-In Centers in the community include:
The Bishop Center Cosgrove Center, E. 18th and Superior (8 a.m. to 3 p.m.)
West Side Catholic Center, 3155 Lorain Avenue (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.)

See a list of warming centers around our area here.

Care for Older Adults

The Cleveland Department of Aging will be sending a message to 25,000 senior households using their Code Red messaging system with tips and recommendations for seniors to keep warm and safe this week. Adam Sissler with the department encouraged residents to sign up for the system here.

Seniors are at greater risk of hypothermia and frostbite and should bundle up and set their thermostat at 68 degrees or higher, Sissler said. He said seniors should try to stay dry and out of the wind, and if they have to go outside, make sure to keep their face, fingers and any other exposed skin covered.

Everyone, including seniors, should have at least two to three days of emergency supplies on hand, including water and non-perishable food. Sissler said to call the Department of Aging if you do not have a working heat source in your home, and they can work to find a solution. If there is not a working furnace in the home, he recommended the resident make arrangements to stay with a friend or family member.

The Department of Aging also asked residents to check in on elderly friends, family members and neighbors, and their pets.

See more resources and tips from the Department of Aging here.

EMS Tips on Staying Safe in the Cold

Commander Christopher Chapin with EMS gave recommendations on the best way to prevent and treat the two major health risks in extreme cold temperatures: frostbite and hypothermia.

Chapin said to dress in loose layers, and if the layers get wet, remove them. Cover all exposed areas, and make sure to cover your mouth before you go outside to avoid the rush of cold air that can trigger asthma.

If you have small children, make sure they are completely covered, Chapin said. If you do have frostbite and the skin is frozen, seek immediate medical attention. If you have red skin that is near freezing, passive heat is the best way to warm skin; do not place skin directly on a heat source.

Tips for Safely Heating Your Home

Do not use your stove as a source of heat, said Patrick Mangan with the Cleveland Division of Fire. It is dangerous to leave unattended, and gas stoves can create dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide.

Use other avenues of heat, and if you use a space heater, make sure to read the instructions.

Do not overload circuits, Mangan said. When you put seven or 10 appliances on a single breaker, and the breaker trips, that is a signal that it is overloaded. A leading cause of fire is resetting that breaker with the same number of appliances connected. Reduce the load by moving appliances to other outlets.

During bitter cold, the fire department sees an increase in fire incidents. They ask that you pay particular attention to ensuring your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries, and that they are located in the best place in your home.

Water and Plumbing

Customer plumbing is susceptible to freezing, said Alex Margevicius, commission of Cleveland Water. Burst plumbing and flooding could occur.

Margevicius said that wind chill in particular can trigger burst plumbing in homes. He recommended that if you have plumbing running through a cold space in your home, such as a garage wall or uninsulated wall, take preventative steps. Shut off outside spigots and insulate pipes in vulnerable areas.

If there are cold drafts on certain parts of a wall, plug up those cracks to prevent cold air from getting to the plumbing. Margevicius said a simple pencil stream of water is just enough to move water through the connection and prevent it from freezing.

If your plumbing is frozen, make sure you know where your shut-off valve is – it is usually in the basement next to the water meter. A hair dryer can warm frozen pipes up, Margevicius said. If you do suffer from broken plumbing, you will have to contact your own licensed bonded plumber to do repairs.