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City Opens Warming Shelter, Plus How You Can Best Help Homeless Endure Bitter Cold

Ferndale first responders are treating calls for medical assistance as life-threatening in the worst cold snap in southeast Michigan in two decades.

Frostbite can occur quickly in extreme cold temperatures and wind chill values associated with the polar vortex plunging southeast Michigan into the deep freeze. (Photo: David Trood/Getty Images)
Frostbite can occur quickly in extreme cold temperatures and wind chill values associated with the polar vortex plunging southeast Michigan into the deep freeze. (Photo: David Trood/Getty Images)

The city of Ferndale will operate a warming center for people who need a short break from the cold from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. both today and Wednesday as southeast Michigan experiences record low temperatures, including wind chill values as cold as -35 below zero.

The warming center is located at:

  • Kulick Community Center, 1201 Livernois, Ferndale MI 48220 (248) 544-6767

Also during this dangerous cold snap, Ferndale first responders will treat 911 calls for medical assistance as life-threatening.

“Don’t hesitate to call 911 if you or someone you know loses heat in the middle of the night, the furnace goes out, what have you,” Fire Chief Kevin Sullivan said in a news release. “These are life-threatening events that warrant a call in subzero temperatures.”

City officials remind people whose jobs or other activities require them to be outdoors to limit their time in the elements, wear several layers of clothing and cover up as much as possible to avoid frostbite.

How to Help the Homeless

The combination of cold temperatures and gusty winds means today's wind chills might get as low as -35 degrees, and in these conditions, frostbite can occur in less than 15 minutes. Hypothermia is another risk.

If you see a homeless person in need of help or anyone else in distress, Botsford Hospital Community EMS encourages residents to immediately call its toll-free number, (800) 343-4427, to  request assistance. Greg Beauchemin, president and CEO of Community EMS, said dispatchers at the call center will send their rehab unit or an ambulance to help the person in need.

The rehab unit is a special 20-person medical unit that can provide medical care, aid and comfort (blankets, jackets, coffee, warmth and escape from the elements) to homeless people throughout metro Detroit. Community EMS is part of Botsford Health Care.

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