Weather a danger for homeless, elderly as temperatures drop

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — With temperatures dropping, the city is planning to open Boutwell Auditorium as a warming station overnight Tuesday and Wednesday. Around 250 cots were set up Tuesday morning in the main auditorium. Food will also be provided for anyone who takes advantage of the station.

Grady Clements is a volunteer at the Boutwell warming station. He was homeless for eight years. One cold night, he took advantage of the warming station and met Don Lupo, the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Citizen Assistance. He said Lupo encouraged him and set him on a path to turning his life around.

He now has a place to live and volunteers as a way to give back. It’s something he’s passionate about and he’s encouraging anyone who needs a place to stay to come here.

“If you’re in the cold, even if the power goes out at your house, come on down we’d be glad to take you. If you’re handicapped, come on down we’ll get you in here. Don’t matter what condition we’ll get you in here,” said Clements. “We’ve got warm blankets, we’ve got a hot meal for you. We’ve got a bed for you to sleep on, got restrooms for you to use. We’re here to provide for what people need, and that’s what we want to do.”

The Boutwell warming station will be open from 5 p.m. until 7 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Lupo said it’s not a shelter, but a supplement to the local shelters that tend to fill up quickly on cold nights.

It’s not just the homeless who suffer when it gets cold outside. Cold temperatures also put the elderly at risk. The United Way Area Agency on Aging has some tips for seniors and their loved ones to help keep them safe.

From United Way

For older adults:

  • Arrange a check-in system with neighbors and friends to call you
  • Stay indoors. If you have to go out, cover all parts of your body to prevent frostbite.
  • Keep indoor temperature 65 degrees or warmer.
  • Select a location inside where heat can be conserved, like a room that receives a lot of sunlight.
  • Seal off any rooms not being used by shutting doors and closing windows.
  • Dress smart by layering up. Wearing two or three thinner layers of loose fitting clothing is warmer than wearing a single layer of thick clothing.
  • Make sure you have hats, gloves or mittens, winter coat, scarf, thermals, and thick socks in addition to long-sleeved shirts and long pants.

For seniors planning to go to a verified warming station:

  • Winterize your car by making sure you have antifreeze, gasoline in your tank, booster cables and your tires are aired up.
  • If you have a cell phone, make sure your phone is charged and let someone know where you are going.
  • Stock your car with a First Aid kit, blankets, extra warm clothes, water and dried food and a flashlight.

The Boutwell Auditorium will be open from 5 p.m. until 7 a.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Blankets, cots and dinner will be provided.

Click here for more information about the services offered by United Way Area Agency on Aging

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