City Officials, Shelters Work To Protect Homeless Community During Cold Weather

Feb 12, 2021

Homeless shelters and city officials are working to make sure Wichita's homeless population stays safe during this ongoing cold snap.

Credit KMUW/Sean Sandefur

Temperatures and wind chills are expected to remain brutally cold through the middle of next week. There also is a chance for between five and 10 inches of snow over the weekend.

A winter storm watch will be in affect late Saturday night through Monday afternoon. Road conditions are expected to be slick in parts of the state.

All Wichita homeless shelters will remain open during the day. They are inviting people on the streets to come inside and stay warm. The Salvation Army is opening its facilities as warming centers in the mornings and afternoons; find a location here

Officer Nate Schwiethale is part of the Wichita Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team. He discussed the strategy of helping the homeless during cold weather.

“One of the things that we’re trying to do as a team … (is) to focus right now and all our energies on going out and finding people,” he said. “Making those 9-1-1 calls and the welfare calls and trying to get people connected with the shelters.”

Police hope the homeless will turn to the shelters for help instead of staying outside. 

Here are some tips on dealing with the cold weather:

Car kits

You should avoid travel if you can. You can check on road conditions at kandrive.org.

If you must travel during bad weather, keep these items in your car in case of an emergency:

  • Jumper cables
  • Flares or reflective triangle
  • Ice scraper
  • Car cell phone charger
  • Blanket
  • Map
  • Cat litter or sand for better tire traction

Home kits

Power outages are common with cold weather and snow. Make sure you have:

  • Battery-operated radio
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Extra blankets and warm clothing
  • Food that you can open and prepare easily
  • Plenty of clean drinking water

Pets

If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pet.

Make sure to wash and dry your pet’s feet after walks. Don’t let your pet onto icy lakes or ponds.

Consider a sweater or coat for your pet. Make sure your pet has access to fresh water and food.

Michael Perreault is an intern in the KMUW News Lab. He is a senior in Wichita State University's Elliott School of Communication.