Tonawanda News — It's winter in Western New York ... and it's not going away anytime soon.
Several days of cold, snowy conditions, however, have left residents of the Tonawandas digging out and preparing for the months ahead as snow continues in the forecast for today and portions of the coming week — and organizations that provide those in need with warm clothing filling requests for coats, gloves, hat and boots.
Greg Lureman of Twin Cities Community Outreach said that the TCCO Clothes Closet, as usual, could use gloves and hats — but more than anything, it needs warm winter coats
"It's that time of year," he said. "Anything we're fortunate enough to get in seems to go out as soon as it comes in. We can always use coats. There's always a need this time of year, and that's our biggest need."
In addition, the closet could use boots and warm blankets and heavier bedding in good shape. Donations can be dropped off from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday and Thursdays at the closet at TCCO, 100 Ridge Road, North Tonawanda.
However, while coats are always needed, sometimes the less obvious items are needed even more.
Gerald Tidd, commander of the Chapter 120, Roll of Honor, Disabled American Veterans, said the organization has collected many coats, hats and gloves for homeless veterans, but could really use long underwear for both men and women (as many veterans on the street are female), socks, boots and shoes in good shape. In addition, small cooking appliances with which to heat up food and coupons for fast-food restaurants are always welcome.
"That way, they can go inside and get warm for a while," he said.
Donated items can be dropped off at 460 North Ave., North Tonawanda, or at 1945 Parker Blvd., Town of Tonawanda. For more information, call Tidd at 310-2004.
Some organizations may be doing well now ... but that might not be the case in a few months when the holiday rush has died down. Jill O'Malley of the Ken-Ton Closet said the organization has many donated coats and items now, but that it will likely see a resurgence of need once the chill of winter has truly set in and the shelves could be getting a little emptier.
"We're going to see a surge in February and March," she said, "But right now we're pretty well set."
As the winter conditions worsened this week, the Erie County Department of Health issued a reminder about the importance of proper preparation and cold-weather conditions.
“Dealing with extreme cold and snow removal can put a tremendous strain on your body” said Gale Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Health in a release from the department. “Working in the cold, including snow shoveling or using a snow blower puts an added strain on your heart which can lead to heart attacks. Especially when you have high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease, be sure to follow your personal physician’s advice before undertaking such strenuous activities.”
The statement continued: “Prolonged exposure to extreme cold can also cause hypothermia or frostbite. Pay attention to your body’s signals such as shivering. Shivering is the first sign your body is losing heat; if you cannot stop shivering it is a clear signal to go indoors. Prolonged exposure to the cold may bring about serious and dangerous conditions such as frostbite and hypothermia which can be deadly.”
Other tips from the ECDOH include:
• Keep adequate supplies on hand at home, including non-perishable food, water, extra blankets, a first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, one week supply of essential medications and flashlights with extra batteries.
• When traveling by car, keep an emergency kit on hand including non-perishable food, such as granola bars, dried fruit, beef jerky and water.
• Be aware of the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. Check or change the batteries in your home's CO detector every six months. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.
• Never use a portable generator indoors; make sure they are at least 20 feet away from dwellings. Never use a oven or range to heat a home.
• Never idle a car in the garage.