PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Emergency management officials are warning Southern New England to brace for dangerous temperatures during the weekend’s cold snap.
Providence city leaders and local organizations are preparing shelters and warming centers to accommodate homeless individuals.
Amos House currently operates the Cranston Street Armory. CEO Eileen Hayes said the armory typically welcomes 175 individuals every day, but they’re preparing to take in more.
“We will have food for folks and a warm place to sleep if they need it,” Hayes said. “We have cots for 200 folks, and if they come in, even after the 200, we will make sure they are getting in there and being safe.”
Dr. Philip Chan from the Rhode Island Department of Health said frostbite can happen in as little as 10 to 15 minutes in the temperatures that are expected over the weekend.
“Frostbite really presents usually as a discoloration of extremities, so that can be finger, toes, cheeks, nose, etcetera,” Chan explained. “Hypothermia is a medical emergency. Your body is literally shutting down because of the cold. People can get cold, obviously shivering, lethargic, confusion, it’s a medical emergency.”
Amos House told 12 News the armory is stocked with supplies to treat frostbite.
“People can die outside,” Hayes said. “I think 15 minutes outside at temperatures of zero can create frostbite. We just want to keep people alive.”
Officials are encouraging people to layer for protection and stay indoors.
“Make sure that you are covering any exposed skin, make sure you are wearing a hat, wearing a scarf over your face and your mouth,” said Clara Decerbo, director of the Providence Emergency Management Agency.
Gov. Dan McKee announced Thursday the state will pay for transportation for anyone who needs to find shelter at the armory.
“We have been coordinating over the last couple of days with our shelter system in the city—we’ve worked with Crossroads Rhode Island, Providence Rescue Mission, Emmanuel House, and the Cranston Street Armory that’s being managed by Amos House to make sure that they have enough capacity and supplies to support anyone who may need shelter,” Decerbo added. “They are going to be open and accepting to all individuals 24-7 throughout the extreme cold.”