SPOKANE, Wash. — With an Arctic Blast arriving in Spokane this week, the city has opened a temporary, short-term warming center.
The drop-in center will be housed at the Spokane Convention Center starting Sunday, Dec. 26 at 12 p.m. The warming center will be open 24 hours a day. The city said the location is co-ed and people can bring their pets with them. Meals will also be provided. The center is scheduled to remain open through noon on Sunday, Jan. 2.
Temperatures are expected to drop to near zero in Spokane and have already dropped below zero for parts of the Inland Northwest. High temperatures will likely remain in the teens throughout the week. High temperatures below 10 degrees are fairly uncommon and haven't happened since Nov. 24, 2010. But lows below zero are less rare. It was March 1, 2019 the last date that saw a sub-zero reading.
The temporary warming center will be available to people and pets experiencing homelessness and other vulnerable people that need a space to warm up. The city said the space will be able to accommodate 150 people but added that could be scaled.
The city is accepting donations for the warming center. People interested in helping out can donate:
- non-perishable food
- hand warmers
Donations can be dropped off at the Cannon Street Shelter at 527 S. Cannon Street.
In addition to the warming center, the Spokane Fire Department will be doing wellness checks on vulnerable people who are out in the cold weather. Libraries will also be open during the day for people who need to warm up.
Homeless camp protest
A group of campers has been protesting for the past few weeks over what they say is a lack of adequate shelter space. The group first held a protest at Spokane City Hall in hopes of encouraging the city to take action in increasing new shelters for those enduring the cold winter months.
After receiving a notice to vacate City Hall, the group moved to a new location along I-90 near Freya. WSDOT issued a notice for the campers to vacate. That notice expired on Monday morning and it's not clear what is next for the camp.
Staying safe in the cold
The city of Spokane shared these tips for staying safe in the cold weather:
- Use fireplaces, wood stoves or other combustion heaters only if properly vented to the outside. Don’t use your oven for heat, and never use a charcoal grill or gas grill indoors.
- When you go outside, wear several layers of loose-fitting, light-weight, warm clothing rather than a single layer of heavy clothing. Wear mittens instead of gloves. Wear a hat and cover your mouth with a scarf to protect lungs from extremely cold air.
- Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia:
- Signs of frostbite include numbness or a white or grayish-yellow skin area that feels unusually firm or waxy.
- Signs of hypothermia include slurred speech, disorientation, uncontrollable shivering, stumbling, drowsiness, and body temperature of 95 degrees or less.
- If you have to travel, stock your car with blankets and other basic supplies in case you have trouble caused by the cold.
- Protect your pets by keeping them indoors as much as possible.
- Take steps to protect your water pipes from freezing.
WATCH MORE: Spokane Weather: White Christmas & Arctic Blast