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Staying safe as Central Texas braces for extreme cold weather

Health experts are warning people of the dangers of freezing temperatures, while local non-profits work to get the homeless some shelter.

WACO, Texas — As Central Texas braces for record cold temperatures, you can prepare yourself and stay safe. 

Health experts have warned people of the dangers freezing temperatures can have on your health and how you should prepare, while local non-profit organizations are working to get the homeless some shelter and keep them alive.

Major Jim Taylor with the Waco Salvation Army said the homeless population is especially vulnerable, so if you someone on the street direct them to a shelter.

"Direct them somewhere they can get shelter and some warmth to keep themselves maybe even from dying from the elements," Taylor said. "It's really that dire right now."

They currently only have 20 beds and they're expecting more than double that amount of people over the weekend through Monday. So they'll be open 24 hours as a warming center to make sure no one is left behind in the freezing cold. 

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"We have cots that we can put out to make sure that anyone who wants to come in has a place to sleep. We have mats we can put on the floor and sleeping bags, and we're just gonna do whatever we can to give a place for people to come and get out of the elements," Taylor said.

For those who have to be outside, hypothermia and frostbite become real possibilities. Dr. Jocelyn Wilson at Baylor Scott and White Hillcrest said everyone should be prepared before you step out your door. 

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CDC extreme cold prevention guide, click here

"The most likely areas to incur frostbite are your nose, ears, digits, toes and so the consequences are severe tissue damage like loss of digits, damage to your nose and ears, so you have to protect those areas," Dr. Wilson said.  

It's important to layer up to stay safe and warm. 

Credit: weather.gov/safety

If it's chilly, one to two layers is fine, if it's cold you can wear two to three layers.  For extreme cold, which is what Central Texas will get, be sure to have at least three layers.

"The innermost layer should be a wicking material so that it keeps the moisture away from your body. The second later should be like fleece or wool, and the outer layer should be water or snow resistant," Dr. Wilson said. 

Along with covering up, getting sufficient sleep, drinking water and eating well can all help you stay safe.

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