Dangerously low temperatures hitting some Houstonians particularly hard

The cold snap is leaving many vulnerable Houstonians exposed to dangerously low temperatures.

When it gets this cold many senior citizens on a fixed budget won’t turn up the heat, some residents may not have heat and there are thousands here in Houston who don’t even have homes to seek shelter from the cold.


As temperatures tumble into the 30’s those who are homeless in Houston are trying to keep warm the best way they can including some who have gathered wood and have started a campfire underneath the Highway 59 overpass.

"If you know Houston, Texas it can get really hot or it can get really cold or a storm or hurricane can come out of nowhere and these people have to deal with that. So we’re here to help," says Sr. Offcr Nick Vogelsang with the Houston Police Department's Homeless Outreach Team.  They can’t just call up the police if something’s wrong because most don’t have a cell phone."

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Officers with the Houston Police Department’s Homeless Outreach team have been out all day, not only handing out blankets but also getting men and women who want to escape the cold off the street. 

"We’re actually trying to help them get back on their feet and get back into the community, you know trying to help them get jobs or whatever we can do to help them," explains Officer Marcus Cooper with HPD's Homeless Outreach Team.  

"We’re helping them with getting identification, getting them in a shelter or helping them with rehab or some type of permanent supportive housing," adds Sr. Officer Vogelsang. "Getting them in contact with family members that they’ve lost."

This cold snap can also be dangerous for Houstonians trying to stay warm in their homes with space heaters. 

"Some of those devices can emit Carbon Monoxide. Carbon Monoxide is a silent killer," says Atascocita Volunteer Fire Department Battalion Chief Brian Mulligan.  "It’s colorless and odorless. You need to make sure you have carbon monoxide detectors in your home."

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Often when the temperature falls this much it’s fires that rip through homes, too many times becoming a deadly night for people simply trying to stay warm. 

"You want to make sure you have an open area clear around the device and that it’s used according to the manufacturers recommendations. You need to ensure that it’s approved for indoor use," Chief Mulligan explains.

He’s also reminding us to make sure to keep the area clear around any open flames such as candles or fireplaces and remember to put the fire out before you fall asleep. 


Don’t forget to check on your neighbors, particularly the elderly to ensure they have heat and blankets. The Office of Emergency Management says there are no plans to open warming centers unless the temperature falls below freezing and remains there for a period of time.

A local organization is providing shelter Friday night for those who do not have a warm place to stay. NACCS Disaster Services is opening a warming center on Air Center Blvd in northeast Houston beginning at 7 p.m. Buses will pick people up at the downtown library on McKinney and the Search Building on Congress.

If you see a homeless person who is in need contact HPD’s Homeless Outreach team at 713-884-3131.