Freezing temperatures late last week and this week forced area businesses and support groups to continue efforts in helping those in need avoid cold weather health issues.
Butler County homeless shelters said when temperatures reach “dangerous” levels like those forecast for this week, those staying there are permitted to remain indoors, rather than being forced to leave as is the normal policy.
Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said he’s opening the department’s lobby at night for those seeking a warm place to sleep.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Jones said.
He said people are allowed to sit in chairs in the lobby, but they must leave in the morning when the lobby opens to the public. After those leave the lobby, they typically walk to church food pantries, Jones said.
In previous years, during extreme cold spells, Jones said the department has collected coats and blankets and given them to those staying there. Those who enter the lobby are not checked to see if they have warrants, he said.
Three times within the last week or so, Jones said he has encountered homeless people either sitting in Butler County fast-food restaurants or the jail’s lobby. He has talked to them and asked where they sleep. He was told vacant garages and porches.
He said some of the homeless are either addicts or recovering addicts and they told him they can’t stay in homeless shelters because they don’t have IDs.
The MidPointe Library System, with branches in Middletown, Monroe, Trenton, West Chester and Liberty Twp., rarely closes because of weather and is open to those seeking to get out of the winter weather, said Cari Hillman, public relations manager.
Alexandra Carpenter, trauma program manager at Atrium Medical Center, said the “biggest” way to reduce the possibility of cold weather health issues is to wear the right clothing and dress in layers. It’s also important, she said, to make sure the outer layer — coats and shoes — are waterproof.
Once clothes get wet, she said, that increases the chance of hypothermia. People should change into dry clothes as soon as possible, she said.
Carpenter said some of the early signs of hypothermia include extreme shivering, rapid breathing and heart rate, slurred speak and lack of coordination.
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