Marblehead to open emergency shelter during weekend cold snap

As arctic cold sweeps through the Northeast, Marblehead Fire Chief Jason Gilliland said the town will open an emergency shelter in the Brown Elementary School on Friday afternoon.

“The shelter will open at 5 p.m. Friday and stay open until Sunday morning,” Gilliland told the Marblehead Current on Thursday afternoon. “We will have cots, blankets and obviously heat. There are bathrooms.” 

The fire chief said the shelter will be open to anybody, but especially to people who do not have proper heat.  

The National Weather Service has forecast dangerously low wind chills, possibly reaching minus-25 degrees. 

“All of us are going to be spending a lot of time indoors this weekend,” said Marblehead Public Health Director Andrew Petty. “Even when they go out to run errands, they should make sure they cover their skin.”

On Wednesday evening, Petty sent out the U.S. Department of Public Health’s extreme cold guide.

Gilliland said the fire and police departments are preparing for the weekend cold snap.

“Capt. [Matt] Freeman and I met this afternoon, we decided to that we are putting extra personnel on,” said Gilliland on Wednesday afternoon.

According to the National Weather Service, dangerously cold temperatures are expected to arrive late in the week.

“The arctic outbreak will start late Thursday night, peak late Friday night into Saturday morning and end Sunday morning,” wrote the National Weather Service. “Minimum wind chills may challenge all-time records at some stations.”

The weekend plummet in temperatures is a dramatic shift following what has been one of the warmest Januaries on record, according to the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

Gilliland and the National Weather Service said it would take as little as five minutes for exposed skin to develop frostbite during the lowest wind chills Friday night into Saturday morning, and 10 to 15 minutes for most of the weather event.

Always plan for a worst-case scenario when traveling, and make sure the car tank is filled or “has enough fuel to get where you’re going,” Gilliland said.

“Keep your house warm, but don’t use stoves to heat your home,” the chief said. “Make sure the oil tank is filled. Watch out for freezing pipes.”

He added, “If anyone has a problem, they should not hesitate to call either 911 or into the stations.”

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