ROCKFORD -- For anyone who's stepped outside lately, you know that within seconds you're shivering and miserable. Now imagine you don't have a place to go to warm up.
The temperatures are not only dangerous for those who don't have homes, but also for those who do. Before you hustle home to curl up by a fire or a space heater, think twice.
"The months of December, January and February are the months with the highest reported number of home fires," said Allen Geeser, Cherry Valley fire inspector.
Those home fires can happen in an instant, with something as small as a blanket accidentally thrown over space heater.
“Damage itself can occur readily,” Geeser said. “Fires have been known to double in size every minute.”
For those out walking the streets without a place to call home finding heat can be a matter of life and death. Rockford has several warming centers available from the Public Safety Building, to the Rockford Rescue Mission, to right across the street at the Winnebago County Justice Center.
"I just walked two blocks and about froze my ears off,” said Renade Cossey, Director of Programs for the Rockford Rescue Mission. “So for us to be able to have people just come in have a warm place to sit, some fresh water, have some reading material, I think it's vital to the community."
Phil Schlemon is no stranger to the Rescue Mission. He's used it for the past month while he looks for a new job. Monday, Schlemon says he saw more than double the usual number of people. And while some aren't utilizing everything the Mission has to offer, he says with this weather it's just important to get warm.
"It's more than just a warming institution, but that's the main thing, you’ve got to get out of the cold, you’ve got to get out of the climatic weather, and without that there's just no way to move forward," said Schlemon.
Just a few more tips from Geeser on how to keep your home safe during these cold temperatures: One, get your fireplace cleaned and checked once a year. Two, keep items at least three feet away from space heaters. And three, make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
The following is a full list of warming centers available in Winnebago and Boone Counties:
Mon–Fri 8:15am – 3:00pm
Lobby open 24 hrs./7 days a week
Women’s Crisis Center
Women and Children Only
8:00am – 5:00pm/7days a week
Lobby open if 32 degrees or below
Mon-Fri 7:00am – 5:00pm
24 hrs./7 days a week
Meals served 3 times per day at
7:00am - Noon - 5:30pm
Pecatonica Village Hall
Mon-Fri 8:00am – 4:00pm
Mon-Fri 8:00am – 4:30pm
Mon-Fri 8:30am – 4:30pm
Bay View Community Room
Mon - Fri 9:00am – 5:00pm
Mon-Fri 8:00am – 4:30pm
9:00 – 11:45am 1:00-4:00pm
24 hrs/7 days a week