NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – With frigid temperatures and a dangerous wind chill expected in the next 24 hours, the concern turns to those who are homeless or vulnerable to the weather.

A church in the Oak Lawn area of Dallas is opening its doors to help.

Oak Lawn United Methodist Church is prepared to take in dozens of people. Senior Pastor Rachel Baughman says in this neighborhood, there are many who are vulnerable or homeless.

Among them, La’Keisha McGee.

“I have a warm mat. I have a comfortable place to sleep,” McGee said.

Beginning Monday, Oak Lawn UMC will serve hot meals, and have beds ready for 80 people.

If shelters like this reach capacity, the City of Dallas is ready to open a temporary shelter space at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, downtown.

“All the shelter directors have been working in collaboration with folks from the city and Office of Homeless Solutions to try to come up with a plan for some time now. We’re really excited and proud that this year we have a plan to react,” said Baughman.

MedStar will also prioritize emergency response to calls that come in involving people out in the cold.

Hypothermia symptoms for adults include:

  • Shivering, which may stop as hypothermia progresses (shivering is actually a good sign that a person’s heat regulation systems are still active.)
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Confusion and memory loss
  • Drowsiness or exhaustion
  • Slurred or mumbled speech
  • Loss of coordination, fumbling hands, stumbling steps
  • A slow, weak pulse
  • In severe hypothermia, a person may be unconscious without obvious signs of breathing or a pulse

And, tips to reduce the risk of frostbite or hypothermia:

    • Wear cold weather appropriate clothing such as gloves/mittens, hats, scarves and snow boots. Dress in several layers of loose-fitting clothing, and cover your face and mouth if possible.
    • Be aware of the wind chill factor.  Wind can cause body-heat loss.
    • Stay dry, and if you become wet, remove wet clothing immediately.
    • Limit your time outdoors.
    • Do not ignore shivering.  It’s an important first sign that the body is losing heat.  Persistent shivering is a signal to return indoors.

Jennifer Lindgren