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How to weather the extreme cold: NH emergency shelter info, safety tips and more

Bunk beds inside a coach bus that the Hundred Nights shelter in Keene has converted into an overflow winter shelter.
Paul Cuno-Booth
/
NHPR
Bunk beds inside a coach bus that the Hundred Nights shelter in Keene has converted into an overflow winter shelter.

This was originally published in February 2023. We updated it with new information in January 2024.

Dangerous cold is expected in New Hampshire in the days ahead. Here's some tips on how to stay safe, and where to turn for help.


How to stay safe and spot signs of hypothermia

During past periods of extreme cold, state officials urged people to stay inside if at all possible and to prepare for potential power outages. They said residents should try to keep an emergency kit stocked with about three days' worth of supplies, including blankets, flashlights and extra batteries.

For those who are unable to find a safe place to stay inside, this guide from the National Health Care for the Homeless Council has tips on how to stay safe if you must be outdoors during extremely cold weather — though they strongly advise finding a safe indoor space if at all possible.

This guide from the CDC also includes advice on how to avoid, spot and treat hypothermia.

Learn more about how to stay safe in extreme cold using these tips from ReadyNH.gov. And here are some more practical tips for weathering a deep freeze in New Hampshire.


Where to find shelter

A state directory of shelter options is available at this link. You can also try calling 211 or visiting 211nh.org. You can also try contacting your local welfare office, using the contact information listed here.

In Manchester, there are several warming centers available: 1269 Café at 456 Union Street, the Waypoint Resource Center at 298 Hanover Street (for people 12 to 24 years old) and the Beech Street Engagement Center at 39 Beech Street. More details on those and other shelter options can be found here.

The Strafford County Warming Center is also open as needed throughout the winter, at 30 Willand Drive. For more information on hours and availability, check their Facebook page, call 603-742-2709 or text “willand” to 855-935-4402.

Here are some other cold weather shelters and services, according to the state. (Full list here.)

  • Lakes Region Mental Health Center: Winter shelter information at 603-528-5126, general information at 603-581-4807
  • Way Station, serving Carroll County: Call 603-452-7113 for information on supplies and resources
  • Tri County Community Action Program, serving Coos and Grafton County: 1-888-NH-TCCAP
  • Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter: For winter shelter information, call 603-889-7770, ext. 1137
  • Merrimack County: Call 603-796-6880 for information on the county navigator program
  • Belknap-Merrimack Community Action Program: Call 603-225-6880 for information on supplies and resources
  • Concord Coalition to End Homelessness: Winter shelter information at 603-219-0287, resource center at 603-290-3375
  • The Friendly Kitchen, Concord: Soup kitchen information at 603-224-7678
  • Cross Roads House, Portsmouth: Shelter information at 603-436-2218
  • Southwestern Community Services, serving Sullivan and Cheshire County: Reach the Keene office at 603-352-7512 or the Claremont office at 603-542-9528; you can also ask for Lore at 603-209-0251

Where to donate cold weather supplies

Waypoint, an organization that serves unhoused and at-risk youth, has information on how to donate needed supplies here.

The Upper Valley Haven, located in White River Junction, has a wish list of needed food, toiletry and other items.

Hundred Nights Shelter in Keene is also looking for cold weather supplies, boots and other items.

NH Mutual Aid Relief Fund accepts donations of clothing, toiletries and other supplies at drop-off locations around the state.


How to heat your home safely

Heating equipment is a leading cause of fire in New Hampshire. But there are ways to minimize the threat.

New Hampshire’s fire marshal recommends keeping anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from heating equipment and turning portable heaters off before leaving the room or going to bed. They also urge people not to use an oven to heat their home and never use generators indoors. It’s also a good idea to check your fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they're working properly.

The National Weather Service recommends wrapping pipes with insulation and sealing windows to keep heat indoors. If your pipes are located in a cabinet, it helps to open the cabinet doors to allow warm air to reach the pipe. Keeping a slow stream of water running through your faucets can also help keep pipes from freezing.


Don't forget about pets or other animals

Pet owners will also need to take extra precautions this weekend. Lauren Seymour, a veterinary technician in Hopkinton, said in an earlier conversation with NHPR that unless pets are acclimated to below-zero cold, they should only go outside to go to the bathroom.

"I would bring all pets inside," Seymour said. "Cats, for sure. Indoor-outdoor cats, I would try and keep them inside. There's not going to be a lot of warm places to go this weekend. And any outdoor rabbits or anything, I would absolutely bring inside."

Backyard chickens are another story. New Hampshire State Veterinarian Steve Crawford previously told NHPR that flocks should stay in their coops. Bringing birds indoors can pose risks to human health, he said.

Owners should make sure the birds have plenty of deep, dry bedding, walls and a roof to protect them from the wind. They should also have access to fresh water that isn’t frozen and calorie-rich food. Chickens will roost together for warmth, Crawford says.

Livestock owners should do the same: providing animals with enough bedding, food, water and wind protection for the extreme cold.

ASPCA and UNH Extension have more information on keeping animals safe in cold weather.

Updated: January 19, 2024 at 4:20 PM EST
Revised and updated for the 2024 winter season.
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