EL PASO, Texas (KFOX14/CBS4) — As temperatures across the Borderland begin to drop, the threat to El Paso’s most vulnerable populations begins to increase.
To help mitigate problems associated with cold weather, El Paso’s Extreme Weather Task Force (EWTF) launched its annual blanket drive and safety campaign Monday.
According to Grace Ortiz, Extreme Weather Task Force Chair and Community Engagement Specialist with Adult Protective Services, EWTF only has 200 blankets left in stock.
Beyond merely donating blankets, however, EWTF also launched its awareness campaign and shared best practices to stay safe during the winter.
Our goal is not simply to collect and distribute free blankets, we want to check on people and educate the community on how to stay safe in cold weather,” said Ortiz. “Some of the poorest families we’ve seen, especially in the Colonias, don’t have any heat source in their homes. It’s the elderly and the children who suffer the most.
Over the past two years, the EWTF has collected and delivered 1,176 free blankets to the region’s elderly and needy families.
New blanket donations can be delivered at any time to local fire stations around town as well as El Paso County Sheriff sub-stations.
Meanwhile, corporate and monetary donations can be made out to APS Silver Star Board, and mailed to:
Attention – Grace Ortiz, Adult Protective Services
401 E. Franklin, Suite 350, El Paso, TX, 79901.
Those who meet EWTF criteria and are in need of a blanket should call 211.
For more information contact: Grace Ortiz at 915-834-5772 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below is a list of tips from EWTF to stay safe this winter
First and foremost, to help save lives, the EWTF stresses using the “Buddy System,” which simply involves having a trusted relative, friend or neighbor check in daily with an elderly or disabled person during a cold wave.
A Buddy can encourage an at-risk individual to stay warm by wearing layers of clothes, eating well, drinking plenty of fluids and heating their home safely.
Meanwhile, a Buddy can help out with any errands that need to be done.
The most at-risk populations for hypothermia include:
- Elderly people with inadequate food, clothing or heating
- Babies sleeping in cold bedrooms
- Children left unattended
- Adults under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs
- People suffering from mental illness
- People who remain outdoors for long periods (the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc.)
Tips for Preventing Hypothermia
If you have to be outside during cold weather, wear appropriate clothing:
- A hat
- A scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth
- Sleeves that are snug at the wrist
- Mittens (they are warmer than gloves)
- Water-resistant coat and shoes
- Several layers of loose-fitting clothing
- Wool, silk, or polypropylene inner layers of clothing will hold more body heat than cotton.
- Stay dry — wet clothing chills the body rapidly.
- Excess perspiration will increase heat loss, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm.
- Also, avoid getting gasoline or alcohol on your skin while de-icing and fueling your automobile.
- These materials in contact with the skin greatly increase heat loss from the body.
- Eat well-balanced meals will help you stay warmer.
- Do not drink alcoholic beverages — they cause your body to lose heat more rapidly. Instead, drink warm, sweet beverages such as hot chocolate to help maintain your body temperature. If you have any dietary restrictions, ask your doctor.
Recognize the Warnings Signs of Hypothermia.
If you notice signs of hypothermia, take the person’s temperature. If it is below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, the situation is an emergency, get medical attention right away:
- Shivering, exhaustion
- Confusion, fumbling hands
- Memory loss, slurred speech
- Bright red, cold skin
- Very low energy
Tips for Heating Your Home Safely
- If you plan to use a wood stove, fireplace, or space heater, be extremely careful. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and remember these safety tips:
- Use fireplaces, wood stoves, or other combustion heaters only if they are properly vented to the outside and do leak flue gas into the indoor air space.
- Do not burn paper in a fireplace.
- Ensure adequate ventilation if you must use a kerosene heater.
- Do not place a space heater within three (3) feet of anything that may catch on fire, such as drapes, furniture, or bedding, and never cover your space heater.
- Never place a space heater on top of furniture of near water.
- Never leave children unattended near a space heater.
- Make sure that the cord of an electric space heater is not a tripping hazard but do not run the cord under carpets or rugs.
- Avoid using extension cords to plug in your space heater.
- If your space heater has a damaged electrical cord or produces sparks, do not use it.
- Store a multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher near the area to be heated.
- Protect yourself from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning by installing a battery-operated CO detector and never using generators, grills, camp stoves, or similar devices indoors.
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