Every time the weather forecast shows large amounts of snow or bone-chilling temperatures, you can’t help but think about the potential effects it will have. You may wonder, “Will the roads be difficult to drive? Will I be able to get to the store or to work? Will I need to work from home if I get snowed in?”
But for our neighbors experiencing homelessness, the snow and the cold come with a whole other list of questions:
- Will I be safe tonight?
- How will I stay dry?
- Do I have the right clothes and shoes to survive this storm?
- Where can I go to stay warm?
Without proper resources, transportation or shelter, these conditions can prove to be exceptionally dangerous for people in need. Can you imagine being stuck outside last week with just the clothes on your back and wind chills as low as negative 20 degrees or colder? Even moderately cold weather can have dire consequences for someone struggling on the street. The cold weather can also cause people experiencing homelessness who don’t seek out shelter to lose sleep, which can have negative effects on concentration, depression and other hurdles to escaping homelessness.
“Sleeping on the streets . . . Making fire [using hand sanitizer], dressing up in layers and layers and layers . . . blankets and all that, just to get through the night. Finding anywhere that was secluded, where there was no wind chill. One night it was so cold that I just almost froze to death.”Joseph, Mission shelter guest
The Dangers of Extreme Cold
Extreme cold and even colder wind chills can lead to life-threatening situations and long-term challenges. It’s critical that people experiencing homelessness seek safe shelter like we offer at Fort Collins Rescue Mission.
Body temperature being too low affects the brain, making someone unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because you may not know it’s happening.
Frostbite can permanently damage someone’s body, and severe cases can even lead to amputation. The risk increases for those with reduced circulation and those not dressed for extreme cold.
Desperate and cold, some may try to warm up in dangerous ways. Improperly handled fire can lead to burns and property damage, and some may abuse drugs or alcohol, making problems worse.
*More details on the dangers of hypothermia and frostbite can be found from the CDC’s Extreme Cold Guide.
Your Help During Our Recent Cold Snap
During the bone chilling cold that swept over the Front Range last weekend, Fort Collins Rescue Mission continued its lifesaving work by providing shelter to over 140 men across the main shelter location as well as an auxiliary location in the downtown area. Our doors are open to anyone in need in our city to find warmth, a healthy meal and safety. For so many of our guests, that initial need to find safety and a meal gives us the opportunity to connect with them and help guide them toward long-term solutions to their situations.
“I’d probably die in the cold right now. So, the shelter has kept me alive,” FCRM guest, DeWayne, said. “We are fed twice a day, and that’s a real blessing. I’m grateful that I am not out in the cold.”
Guests enjoy warm meals for both breakfast and dinner at the Mission. Meals are prepared and served by Mission staff and volunteers from the community.
That is why we value your partnership with us, especially on the coldest of days. With your help, we can prepare for the influx of guests in our shelters we typically experience as temperatures drop. Just last year, 882 people were known to be experiencing homelessness in Northern Colorado, according to the Northern Colorado Continuum of Care, and about 30% of them were unsheltered. Supporters like you help us stay prepared to welcome as many people as we can on the coldest of nights. Your financial support and time volunteering helps us save lives.
How You Can Help
Also, if you don’t follow us online, you can find the Mission on Facebook, X, Instagram, YouTube, and Vimeo. Visit our profiles and share or like a post or two to help us spread the word about how supporters like you are changing lives every day.
No matter how you get involved, know that we so appreciate your partnership to help save lives.