(Washington, D.C.) As temperatures in the District are forecast to drop to levels not seen in this region in years over the next 24-48 hours, Mayor Vincent C. Gray encouraged District residents to look out for those who are vulnerable during extreme weather – including the homeless and elderly family members, friends and neighbors.
"The District will see temperatures tonight and tomorrow that we haven’t seen in years – and such extreme cold can have deadly consequences for those who are exposed to it even for a short period of time," said Mayor Gray. "Please be on the lookout for those who might be vulnerable, and take advantage of the many resources the District offers to keep people safe and warm."
Mayor Gray said District residents who see or know an individual or family who is homeless can call the District’s hypothermia helpline at 1(800) 535-7252. Residents can also call 311 to be connected to the proper services for people who are homeless in extreme cold.
The District government, through the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA), declares a hypothermia alert when the temperature reaches 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below, including the wind chill. Extreme cold can cause significant impacts to individuals residing in facilities without adequate heat and for those living on the streets.
District agencies will activate their internal plans to ensure their residents, employees, and the public are protected against extreme cold. Residents and visitors are encouraged to stay indoors or find a public facility available for warming. D.C. Public Library (DCPL) branches, some Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) facilities, and the Office on Aging’s (DCOA) Senior Wellness Centers are all places where the District government encourages residents in need to stay warm; they are open to the public during normal business hours:
- View a list of DCPL locations and operating hours
- View a list of DPR recreation centers and hours
- View a list of DCOA Senior Wellness Centers
If major power outages occur throughout the city, HSEMA may activate a DPR site as an emergency warming shelter for that neighborhood or area. Emergency warming shelters are overnight shelters open for the number of people affected by the cold emergency with sleeping cots, food, snacks and additional assistance provided as needed.
Pets should also be brought indoors during hypothermia alerts. To report cruelty, neglect and animal emergencies 24 hours a day, call the Washington Humane Society at (202) 723-5730.
For more information on ways to prepare for, and respond to, extreme cold, visit HSEMA’s website.