BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The cold weather will be very dangerous for anyone who goes outside. Warming shelters across Western New York are opening their doors to anyone who needs help.
Cold temperatures and significant wind chills can be life threatening and can cause serious injuries. Shelters in the City of Buffalo say they are prepared and ready to welcome anyone in need.
“The doors will be open for anybody who needs shelter. We will not turn anybody away during these cold weathers. We know the risks,” Felicia Montella, director of client operations at the Buffalo City Mission, says. “We will put a cot up. We will have meals for them, clean clothes, dry clothes. They will be able to shower and do whatever they need to do.”
The Buffalo City Mission says it is prepared for the cold, Arctic air that will sweep through Western New York. During the Christmas Blizzard, it opened its doors to keep people safe. It plans to do the same this weekend.
This type of bone chilling cold can cause severe health risks after spending just minutes outside.
“The colder the temperature is the less time you should spend outside because there is a higher risk for hypothermia and frostbite and other serious diseases,” Dr. David Holmes, professor at the Jacobs School of Medicine, added.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown says several area warming shelters will be open and fully staffed to assist residents in need.
“For some members of our community, the cold could be life threatening,” Mayor Brown said.
Dr. Holmes has a background in wilderness medicine and says he’s experienced frostbite and significant cold first hand. He says symptoms of hypothermia include confusion and disorientation, making it difficult to feel just how cold the body is. He says if you do have to be outside, you should dress in layers and cover all exposed skin.
“It’s like we’re Buffalo. We’re tough. We can take this. A lot of that is true, we can take cold temperatures more than probably a lot of other people, but it is important, we can get hypothermia like anybody else,” Dr. Holmes continued.
The risk of frostbite, hypothermia and other cold weather injuries will be high, meaning it is important to find a warm place to stay.
“If you are cold, if you don’t have anywhere to sleep tonight, don’t sleep in a bus station. Don’t think that you are okay in a little alcove or under a bridge. Come to the City Mission. Go to another Code Blue site,” Heather Mattiuzzo, senior manager of marketing and communications for the Buffalo City Mission, said.
If you can’t find a place to stay, dial 211. An operator can help place you at a warming shelter nearest you. The Buffalo City Mission says it will bring anyone inside who comes to its doors, making extra room because of the extraordinary temperatures.
Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a reporter in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.