As temperatures continue to grow colder while we creep towards winter, Baltimore County is activating its Freezing Weather Plan a little early.
In most years, the plan that allows shelters to be open doesn't go in motion until Nov. 15. The plan prompts the county to open shelters when the weather turns 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the typical freezing point, or colder.
Those trying to escape the cold during the day can take advantage of public facilities such as libraries, senior and community centers, shopping malls and places of worship. The county's two emergency shelters open overnight, from 6 p.m. to 9 am. when the weather is at or below freezing, located at:
- Eastern Family Resource Center - 9150 Franklin Square Drive, Rosedale, Md.
- Westside Men's Shelter - 309 Redwood Circle, Catonsville, Md.
Those looking to use the shelters must arrive by 10 p.m. Bed availability can be checked by calling 410-887-8463. If the weather is bad enough, emergency shelter hours may be extended into the day.
As low temperatures and wind chill pose a threat to health and safety, basic tips should be heeded. Check on the elderly and chronically ill. Maintain a 72-hour kit. Follow doctors advice about work or exercise if you have a heart issue, as the cold puts extra stress on the heart. Be wary working in icy areas, and if outdoors, don't become overtired. Eating well balanced meals helps you stay warmer, as does avoiding alcohol and caffeine. Dress appropriately for the weather, including warm, sturdy footwear, hats and scarves, water resistant fabrics, and layers.
Don't forget about your furry family and friends as well. Don't leave pets outside in extreme weather, and have an emergency plan for your animals if needed, as shelters do not allow pets.