EL PASO, Texas - As temperatures begin to drop in the borderland, the danger of cold-weather related illnesses begins to increase. The Extreme Weather Task Force held their blanket drive kick-off Tuesday morning.
“Our goal is not simply to collect and distribute free blankets, we want to check on people and educate the community on how to stay safe in cold weather,” said Grace Ortiz, Extreme Weather Task Force Chair.
During the past two years, the Extreme Weather Task Force (EWTF) has collected and delivered 1,257 free blankets to the elderly and needy families in our community. The task force currently has only 200 blankets in stock and they are asking for the community's help in donating new blankets to keep up with the demand.
“Some of the poorest families we’ve seen, especially in the Colonias, don’t have any heat source in their homes,” said Ortiz. “It’s the elderly and the children who suffer the most.”
According to the task force, those most at-risk for hypothermia include: elderly people with inadequate food, clothing or heating; babies sleeping in cold bedrooms; children left unattended; adults under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs; mentally ill individuals; people who remain outdoors for long periods (the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc.)
The EWTF urges the use of the "Buddy System" to help save lives this Winter season. Have a trusted relative, friend or neighbor check in daily with an elderly or disabled person during a cold wave. A buddy should encourage an at-risk individual to stay warm by wearing layers of clothes, eating well, drinking plenty of fluids and heating their home safely.
New blanket donations can be dropped off any time at local fire stations or El Paso County Sheriff sub-stations. Corporate and monetary donations are welcome payable to the APS Silver Star Board. The mailing address is: Attention - Grace Ortiz, Adult Protective Services, 401 E. Franklin, Suite 350, El Paso, TX, 79901.
Those in need of a blanket (who meet EWTF criteria) should call 211.