Red Cross urges people to be prepared
Meteorologists say an "Alberta Clipper" is here, and it's bringing us some of the coldest temperatures in years. The National Weather Service says the thermometer is expected to drop to 12-degrees above zero as a low on Tuesday night, and only reach 23-degrees as a high on Wednesday.
The American Red Cross of the Chesapeake Region says you need to treat it like any other emergency. "Get a kit. Make a plan. Be informed," says spokesman Doug Lent. "If you're going to be sheltering at home if the power goes out or the heat goes out, have a kit ready to go with some of the essentials that you'll need." Those essentials include non-perishable food, bottled water, first-aid supplies and other items.
The frigid temperatures also mean more homeless men and women coming to the Alan P. Linton Shelter on Degrange Street in Frederick, looking for a warm place to sleep. "We did see 60 folks last night (Mon., Jan. 21st) which is about ten more than what we've been seeing," says Shelter Director Milt Higgins.
But if the facility sees more people over the next few days, Higgins says the shelter staff is ready. "We kind of anticipate that, and we're going to be ready for whoever shows up," he says.
The shelter has 80 beds, 60 for men, and 20 for women. If it runs out of beds, Higgins says, contingency plans are in place. "For the women, we overflow into our TV room on some cots. For the men, we have an agreement with the Frederick Rescue Mission that we try to send our overflow to their facility behind us here," he says. The Rescue Mission is located on West South Street.
If you have a place to stay with heat, the Red Cross says you also need to be prepared. In addition to the emergency kit, the agency says have a plan on where to go in case you need to evacuate; and have a battery-powered radio to keep in touch with what's going on, in particular, the location of any shelters that may open up.
Lent says check up on any family members and friends who are vulnerable to this type of weather, especially the elderly. "Those are the people that are really at risk. So know where the local warming shelter is, not just for yourself, but folks like that who might need it more than yourself," he says.
If you want to ride out the cold with space heaters and an electric generator, the Red Cross says use these devices safely to avoid any fires. "Keep your space heater three feet away from anything flammable," he says. "Obviously, never use your generator indoors. Those can cause a lot of the house fires we see this time of year."
And if you're on the roads, Lent says keep an emergency kit inside your car, in case you or your family get stranded on the roads during the cold weather.