CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA)– The wind chills could get to negative 30 degrees by the end of this week. Anyone spending time outside runs the risk of frostbite or hypothermia.
“It’s freezing, you have to take the covers and sleep underneath the covers and use your breath to keep your body heat going,”
Hes talking about having to sleep outside already dangerous in the winter and even more dangerous with the storm coming to Central Illinois.
“Your fingers get numb they ache,” said Vincent Hite.
Vincent Hite is a guest at Strides, a new low-barrier shelter in Champaign. He knows what it is like to sleep outside.
“You can freeze to death, I witnessed that in South Dakota, a couple of people freeze to death at temperatures like negative 13 negative 20 degrees,” said Hite. “You got alcohol and drinking to try to stay warm and then hypothermia and they fall asleep and then they die.”
Dr. Jason Kole with OSF says that numbing feeling Hite has experienced is frostnip.
“Frostnip is basically just cold exposure, and it can happen anywhere below 31 degrees Fahrenheit,” said Kole. “It’s basically a tingling numbness sensation to your hands or any extremities that are exposed to the cold air.”
Dr. Kole says if you are outside for a long time frostnip can become frostbite
“Minor frostbite with some skin blistering or you can get severe frostbite or with prolonged exposure, you can actually get some black appearance to the skin,” said Kole.
Every winter, Dr. Kole says OSF treats patients with frostbite, a lot of them are people without an address. Which is why they host them in the emergency room.
“We really don’t like putting people back out on the street, so we like to make sure that they have shelter before they leave the ER,” said Kole.
“We are prepared,” said Charlene Murray, community relations coordinator for Strides.
She says they have extra cots to accommodate more people.
The shelter is inside the old CU at Home building on East Washington St.
“We’re just focused on housing whoever comes in and whoever needs sheltering,” said Murray.
Dr. Kole says those who are homeless are not the only ones who can face problems in the dangerous cold. He says kids playing in the snow or people who are shoveling are also at risk. Especially if you are consuming alcohol
“When you have alcohol in your system, you’re not going to recognize that you are cold,” said Kole. “Your thermostat will not function the way it should when you’re not intoxicated.”
He says exerting energy in the cold can cause hypothermia. He says it is critical to stay bundled up and inside if you can until the storm is over and temperatures start to rise.
Not everyone without a home has access to the internet or tv. That’s where you come in.
If you see someone who looks displaced, you can call Strides and tell them where you saw them.
Their outreach team will look for the person and even drive them to the shelter if they need help.
Or you can stop by and grab a poster to place around town to spread the word.
The shelter is also asking for blankets, hand warmers, clothing, socks, underwear, non-perishable food, and personal care items.