Cold weather and winter!

Ok, I’ve already expressed my thoughts on the local shelters.  I may make mention to one or two while discussing this topic as it’s a great concern for all homeless people.

During this time of year it’s important to think about weather and shelter.  Most importantly, the homeless should be considering finding a form of shelter from nature’s nasty cold weather.  Unlike up north where temperatures dip down below zero and staying outdoors is basically a poor idea, here in South Carolina one can actually avoid the shelters if one desires.  They must be prepared though.

For the last four years I’ve been on the street.  This is my second year totally away from the shelters.  Yes, I’m still sleeping outside even though current low temperatures have plummeted to around freezing (32F).  I’ve been in and seen as low as 17 degrees here and slept outside.  However, temperature isn’t the only thing you have to worry about when being outside.  You have to also worry about two other things in particular.

The greatest of these is wind chill factor.  I’m not certain who all that reads this has been in the “Windy City” (Chicago) where the average wind velocity is around 15 to 20 knots most of the time.  However, if you’ve been to Chicago, you know what I mean about wind chill.

Here in Columbia we can and sometimes do get wind chills of -5 degrees.  This isn’t much,  but when you are dealing with other issues (namely arthritis)  it can be a bit much.  In this case you’d want at least a good nylon outer material jacket or coat.  This is of course day wear.

At night when not in any kind of shelter, you want at bare minimum a tarp to keep the elements from getting to you.  Better still, you’d want a tent.  Here in S.C., a three season tent will work even in the dead of winter.  Alas, tents get you noticed when trying to avoid getting ticketed for “urban camping.”  A good heavy camouflaged tarp would be easier and much better as you can carry it with you, pitch and tear down faster, and  more durable than most tents.

The best recommendation I can make and also best point is, if you are NOT prepared for being outside in the cold by layering clothing DON’T go outside.  Find some way to stay indoors.  For those without a sleeping bag (rated 30 degrees or colder) again, DON’T stay outside.  This is a bare minimum after November 1st.  Tarpaulins or tents are REQUIRED if you stay outside in inclement weather after November 1st (unless you have a place under cover).  Lastly, if you don’t have the prerequisite equipment just listed, GET YOUR ASS INTO A SHELTER (OGM, Transitions, or city shelter).

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