FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Weather forecasts show a dip in degrees this upcoming weekend, and Broward County officials are urging residents to prepare for the blistering winds.
Leaders in Broward County declared a two-day cold weather emergency from 6 p.m. on Friday to 9 a.m., Sunday.
Officials plan to open shelters for people who experience homelessness.
“We have a wonderful setup. We’re able to help up to 68-70 individuals to bring them in and off the streets,” said Maj. Stephen Long with the Salvation Army in Broward County. “Everybody down in South Florida isn’t prepared for winter-like temps, so we’re able to provide blankets and a hot meal and get them going for the day. We try to alleviate the chill factor that comes with these cold nights.”
The Salvation Army, located at 1445 W. Broward Blvd., and Hope South Florida, located at 1100 N. Andrews Ave., will be open to those in need of shelter during those aforementioned hours.
“People can check in at 6 p.m., and we start setting up for the extra influx of homeless around 3 or 4 o’clock,” said Long.
Keri Siegel is one of those staying at a Salvation Army shelter.
“I used to go to the airport, but they won’t let us do that now,” she said. “I was staying over at a library, and if I lost that the next thing I was going to look for a 24-hour laundromat.”
Officials also encourage people to spread the word to homeless neighbors who need a place to get out of the cold.
“The county is a wonderful partner with the Salvation Army,” said Long. “We’ve been doing this for years. We have a great relationship. They send folks our way and we house them here.”
As temperatures drop, residents are reminded to protect themselves, their pets and their plants from the cold.
Officials recommend when using space heaters, which do have the potential to start a fire, to make sure it is working properly and keep it at least three feet away from anything flammable.
Fort Lauderdale Fire Chief Stephen Gollan offered some safety tips in regards to space heaters.
“Buy space heaters that are certified, user newer space heaters, not older ones. Never use an extension cord using a space heater, make sure it’s plugged directly in,” he said.
Any changes to the weather will extend or cancel the shelter hours, and that will be announced no later than 1 p.m. each day.
Firefighters will also be out on the lookout for those still out on the streets.
“Crews will have blankets and other resources available to monitor and assist those that may not be able to seek refuge normally from the cold,” said Gollan.
Miami-Dade will also have outreach teams out looking for those in need of shelter.
And remember to bring your pets indoors. If it’s too cold for you to sleep outside, it’s probably too cold for them too.
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