Feel That Cold? Here's How To Help The Homeless During The Winter Months.

All across the country, homeless people could be helped with small good deeds.

As much of the country is battered by cold fronts and blizzard-like weather, there is one group of people that is in particular danger: the homeless.

Throughout the country, in cities, suburbs, and even rural areas, homeless people are the most at-risk of death or injury due to extreme cold. With temperatures expected to drop below zero in parts of the Northeast this week, it's worth considering how you can help.


First off, you should understand the threat: the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about 1,000 people die on average from the cold each year — and those just the numbers it has recorded. Plenty more will suffer from things like frostbite or hypothermia that could eventually lead to serious medical procedures like an amputation. 

The good news is, there is plenty you can do to help.

In most major Northeast cities, you can call 311 if you see a homeless person outside in freezing weather. New York City is required to house any person sleeping outside in freezing weather in a shelter, so long as that person is reported to 311. According to CNN, 90 percent of the U.S. population can simply dial 211 and be connected with local community services that can help out a homeless person stuck outside.

Other tips to help the homeless are more straightforward:

- You can offer blankets or gloves to someone on the street. Many homeless shelters say socks are the most sought-after item of all. 

- If the homeless person says they are a veteran, consider notifying Veterans Affairs (VA), which offers veteran-specific services throughout the year. 

- Greg Schiller, and Elgin, Illinois, resident who has been fighting with the city over his decision to house the homeless in his basement, had some advice to A Plus: "Lots of needs for homeless people aren't that expensive," he said. "Just kind of look at them and figure out what they need."

- Hygiene items — as long as they are not full-sized bottles, which are hard to transport — are also recommended. 

- Warm food. Experts say we get hungrier when the cold comes, both from the body's rushes to protect essential organs and years of instinctual evolution to prepare for the winter. If you can feed a homeless person, particularly with a warm meal, it can be very helpful. 

On the whole, The Lancet medical journal reported that there are more deaths caused by the cold each year than heat, which is a good reminder of the dangers of the oncoming temperatures. With that in mind, it's worth thinking about how you can help. 

Cover image: Circlephoto / Shutterstock.com


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