Spencer Platt/Getty Images News/Getty Images

How To Help The Homeless As Dangerously Cold Weather Takes Over The Country

By
Share
Ad failed to load

Just in case you haven't been outside recently or spent the holiday break lounging on a tropical island, I have bad news for you: It's actually freezing outside and it's not getting any better, anytime soon. For most of us, that just means turning on the heat and bundling up in extra cozy pajamas at night and complaining about it on Twitter. But others aren't as fortunate, which is why you and your family might want to know how to help the homeless in this dangerously cold weather.

Because it is dangerous. Most major cities and towns affected by the freezing temps are in emergency mode, which means that shelters and police stations are working overtime to get people in off the streets, even if it means overflow in facilities. In Indianapolis, for example, a shelter that has 290 permanent beds actually slept over 400 people this week, according to local Fox News affiliate FOX 58. In Boston, New York City and Seattle, for example, city-sponsored outreach teams are braving the cold to identify homeless people and encourage them to seek shelter. In Houston, according to Click2Houston, two homeless people reportedly froze to death.

When I say dangerously cold, it's literally dangerous. Over New Year's Eve, 90 percent of the United States didn't even get up to 32 degrees. "You know it's bad when even Dallas can't get above freezing. In fact in all 50 states — including Hawaii — at least one place recorded a temperature below 32 degrees on Tuesday, CNN meteorologist Ivan Cabrera reported.

Ad failed to load

Given how dire the conditions are for many without a home, here are a few ways you can help them through this tough time.

Ask Them If They're OK

Ad failed to load

According to the New York City Coalition for the Homeless, unless you feel really unsafe doing so, you can approach the person and ask them if they're alright and have some place to go. Ask if they need anything that you can provide if you're up to it.

You can remind them that there are shelters they can go to and resources to access. Every city will have different procedures and places to recommend, so do a quick Google search and see what your town is doing. During this kind of extreme weather, the city or town homepage and social media account will likely already have something posted.

Use Your Phone

Ad failed to load

If the person looks like they need medical attention, call 911 immediately and let them know. If they don't need medical attention, don't call 911. Instead, call your city's service hotline to come out and help. About 60 cities have 311 numbers that can connect you to homeless outreach teams to report a person that needs help on the street. Others have city specific hotlines to call — you can find them here. Call your local police precinct when in doubt.

Donate Or Volunteer

Ad failed to load

If you don't know where to start, calling a local homeless shelter or food bank (or any organization that does homeless outreach on the regular) to see what they need is a good first step. You might be able to drop off warm socks, coats, or specific foods and supplies that they need.

Always make sure you call first, since what the organization actually needs might be different from what you assume and you don't want to leave them with canned goods or personal hygiene supplies they can't use.

Share These Resources

Ad failed to load

It might seem silly to post on social media about how your neighbors can help homeless people, but it's likely a ton of your friends just don't know what to do. A lot of people don't know that talking to a homeless person or calling a 311-type hotline to get a skilled outreach team to help inform them of warming centers or shelters is something you can do and could help save lives. Thoughts and prayers are nice, but action is actually useful.

The cold's going to be sticking around, so if you and your friends are cleaning your closets in the name of the New Year, you can also gather old coats and blankets to make your donation all the more bountiful.

Ad failed to load

According to ABC News, a "bomb cyclone," or a winter hurricane is expected to hit the East coast on Wednesday and affect the region through the weekend. The "monster storm" will first hit coastal cities from Maine all the way down to Georgia, according to The Washington Post, then more winds and snow will follow into Thursday and Friday. Temperatures are expected to reach -20 in some mid-Atlantic states, according to TIME. And that's even before the snow and winds hit leading up to the weekend.

So yes, it's dangerously cold out there and anything you can do to help someone less fortunate than you stay warm and stay safe is energy well spent.

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Ad failed to load

Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

15 Baby Names With Unique Nicknames, So Your Family Has Options

I love a good diminutive name, also known as a nickname. I believe I’m partial to them because of my own name, Abigale, but I go by Abi. And since they’re both uniquely spelled, everyone thinks my name is pronounced Ah-bee for some reason — but even …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

The Entire Family Can Enjoy These Movies & Shows Coming To Netflix In June

It's just one of those sad facts of life: every month, shows and movies vanish from Netflix, their varied excitements no longer at your fingertips. But luckily the streaming service is always prepared to fill that content void with lots of new things…
By Megan Walsh

The Reason Why Babies Smile At You Will Seriously Make You Smile

Whether you're currently the recipient of your own baby's sweet smiles or you just seem to be a magnet for baby grins in general, you might find yourself wondering why babies are always smiling at you. Sure, you could be a 'smile whisperer' but scien…
By Kate Miller

8 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say That, Yes, You Are Their Favorite

For a baby to show a preference for a specific person is not only normal, but an essential part of their development. Babies need to form strong attachments to their caregivers for their emotional, social, and physical wellbeing. Usually, but not alw…
By Kimmie Fink

10 Reasons Why I Won't Apologize For Giving My Toddler A Pacifier

My first child had no interest in a pacifier. I tried a couple times to get him to take one, but he always spat them out and gave me an incredulous, judgmental look. But my second? It was love at first suckle. And after a while, the incredulous, judg…
By Jamie Kenney

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at Names.org recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills
)}