Nonprofit keeps homeless warm during winter weather days

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- With the cold making its way to the Chippewa Valley, a Wisconsin Emergency Management Team is reminding the public to take precautions against the winter weather, but for the homeless escaping the chill can be a challenge.

With the National Weather Service issuing a wind chill advisory for Tuesday night through noon Wednesday, Ready Wisconsin said it's important for everyone to prepare for the frigid wind chills

With temperatures forecasted to drop this week to some of the coldest this winter, Tod Pritchard with Wisconsin Emergency Management said it's time to take precautions against the winter chill.

“We think it's a good time to put out the warning, let people know this is coming and it is serious,” said Pritchard.

Pritchard said the biggest tip, may seem like common sense. “The number one thing is just really limiting your time outdoors,” he said.

However, he said it is advice that can have a drastic difference. “When you get to wind chills like we're going to be facing, 35 below, your exposed skin can freeze in less than 10 minutes,” explained Pritchard. “So, it really is in the danger zone.”

Community service specialist, Tessa Linzmeier said it's a danger the homeless at Lutheran Social Service's Positive Avenues face almost daily during the winter months.

“We see people come in and they're just sicker than a dog and it's because they have to stay outside. So, being able to come in during the day just kinds of warms them up for the time being,” said Linzmeier.

Linzmeier said Positive Avenues is one of the few places in Eau Claire those without shelter can go to escape the cold weather during the day.

“Usually we see about 40 people a day but in the winter time it's probably up to 50 or 60 people a day that stop in to get warm or stop in to talk to us if they need resources,” said Linzmeier.

They’re resources, peer support specialist, Jean Minnich said are valued.

“People can come here to get out of the cold, to talk, eat, have a meal, it's kind of like home,” said Minnich.

Pritchard said places like Positive Avenues are important to be aware of, to keep those without shelter safe from health risks, like hypothermia and frostbite.

“They are a resource and if you need a place to go to warm up for a while they’ll welcome you and try to help you out,” said Pritchard.

For those needing to escape the cold temperatures at night, the Sojourner House in downtown Eau Claire is available from 7p.m. to 8 a.m.

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