We haven't seen temps this low in the Rockford area since February of 2011. The extreme cold can be deadly if you're not prepared.
Two weeks ago, Clark Green found himself homeless. He quickly learned how dangerous the effects of the cold can be. "I slept outside one night, it was so bitterly cold I couldn't sit down for too long cause I was too scared I was gonna freeze if I fell asleep so I just stayed walking around all night," says Green.
He is one of nearly 35 other men seeking daytime shelter from the cold at the Rockford Rescue Mission.
Men's Crisis Center Supervisor Bill Feffer has seen first hand how low temperatures can cause serious damage to the human body, and even kill. "obviously frostbite many of these people have serious health issues, which really exacerbates the situation. Diabetes for example with poor circulation they could loose fingers, toes," says Feffer.
Even if you are in good health, Gwen Fay with the Win-Bur-sew Community Emergency Response Team wants to remind people to take extra precautions, especially when traveling. She says the best thing to do is keep an emergency kit in the trunk of your car in case you break down or run out of gas.
Start with the basics, blankets, flashlights, and an extra pair of boots. These items can make a huge difference if you are ever stuck in your car for a long period of time. Last month when nearly 100 vehicles were stranded on U.S. 20 west of Lena during a snowstorm, a kit like this would have come in handy while drivers waited for emergency response crews. Fay says you can buy a pre-bundled kit at a store, or make one yourself.
Fay recommends keeping some snack foods, like hard candy or granola bars with your emergency kit for energy in case of winter emergencies.
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