December 26, 2014

The Dangers of Winter

Being homeless any time of year is dangerous. Malnutrition, dehydration and illness can strike whether it’s 80˚ or 30˚. But as winter settles into Snohomish County, the dangers increase. Here are 3 reasons why:

  1. Hypothermia. Hypothermia, also known as low body temperature, claims the lives of 700 homeless people in our country every year. It can begin to set in at temperatures as mild as 50˚. In Everett, average December temperatures range from 33˚ to 46˚ — the perfect range for hypothermia. Plus, heat escapes the body much faster when clothes are wet. With the typical rainy winters we see here in the Northwest, living and sleeping on the streets can be deadly!

People at a greater risk to hypothermia include:

  • Children or the elderly
  • Those who are chronically ill
  • People who are malnourished or overly tired
  • Men and women who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  1. Lower Immunity. We’ve all heard of “cold and flu” season, but did you know that cold temperatures lower immunity and thicken blood? It’s true. These physical changes increase the risk of illness – including infection and even heart attack. People who are malnourished, or have compromised immune systems are at an even greater risk. Simply having safe shelter can increase someone’s chance of staying healthy.
  2. Lack of Clothing. When winter weather strikes, it hits hard. If a person doesn’t have enough money to buy a meal – they certainly can’t afford warm socks, waterproof boots, a windproof jacket, wool gloves, or a warm hat. These items are crucial to avoiding frostbite, and staying healthy and alive during the coldest and wettest seasons of the year.

As temperatures begin to drop – our hungry and homeless neighbors desperately need our help. Their lives depend on it!


If you’d like to help the homeless this winter by giving a night of safe shelter, a hot meal, or donating blankets, hats, gloves or coats, please drop these items off at the mission or go to the How You Can Help page on our website to find out more.


Sylvia Anderson