4A0A9194With the temperatures dropping, staying warm and safe are challenging factors for unhoused individuals. When temperatures drop in winter weather, there comes an increased risk of hypothermia, frostbite and other cold weather injuries. To alleviate this, states, cities and counties have developed and established facilities known as warming centers in key locations within public property. These warming centers exist to assuage the hardships and risks to individuals' health from prolonged exposure to extremely cold temperatures. Paired with them are White Flag shelters; these exist as overnight facilities meant to protect people from having to sleep outside in sub-freezing temperatures.

While widely unknown, these unsung facilities have been thoughtfully developed to provide relief from increased cold weather injuries during the winter months.

"In general, warming centers are strategically located in public buildings located around the County, such as Library locations and recreation centers, with the goal of providing people who need them with options closer to where they are located,” said Lou Cherry, Communications and Outreach Coordinator for the Public Information Office, Cumberland County.

Being public facilities, warming centers are always open to the public at their corresponding locations within regular business hours. It is only when the weather drops low enough to warrant risk to the public are warming centers more actively advertised to those who might be unaware and in need within the communities they serve.

"Warming centers have no regulated standards and are operated within county and/or city facilities that meet building code standards as warming centers are not intended to shelter individuals overnight," Cherry stated.

"County facilities are maintained by the County, primarily through our Internal Services Department or departmental facilities staff. City facilities are maintained by the City," he said.

While uncommon, understanding and trusting the procedures set in place in times of emergency helps to facilitate the distribution of aid. Cherry stated that there was a department for handling such events.
"Facilities are instructed to alert Emergency Management if any overcrowding issues arise,” he said.

In most cases, emergency management departments are designed with the purpose of developing plans, contingencies and frameworks to alleviate the risks, hazards and vulnerabilities present in the regular operating procedures of the facilities they're overseeing. This includes plans for shortness of resources, equipment malfunctions and overcrowding to list a few.

Warming centers exist as a community staple to alleviate the suffering and health risks faced by people who are stuck outside during dangerously cold weather. While open to anyone who may be in need, these important facilities largely provide a safe and warm space for a local community's unhoused population during winter months. With locations in public facilities such as local libraries, parks and recreation centers and county department buildings, established warming centers give these people a moment of respite from the harsh and damaging temperature drops frequent during cold fronts. When paired with White Flag shelters providing unhoused people a safe and warm place to sleep during these cold weather crises, these two necessary public facility amenities help to reduce cases of life and limb-threatening cold weather injuries. These are just two examples of essential functions maintained by funding and oversight by local county governance.

If you or someone you know is at risk of being out in the cold this winter, please share with them these locations of Cumberland County's warming centers.

• Headquarters Library - 300 Maiden Lane, Fayetteville, NC 28301

• Bordeaux Community Library - 3711 Village Drive, Fayetteville, NC 28304

• Cliffdale Regional Library - 6882 Cliffdale Road , Fayetteville, NC 28314

• East Regional Library - 4809 Clinton Road, Fayetteville, NC 28312

• Hope Mills Community Library - 3411 Golfview Road Hope Mills, NC 28348

• North Regional Library - 855 McArthur Road, Fayetteville, NC 28311

• Spring Lake Community Library - 101 Laketree Boulevard, Spring Lake, NC 28390

• West Regional Library - 7469 Century Circle, Fayetteville, NC 28306

• Cumberland County Department of Social Services lobby - 1225 Ramsey St., Fayetteville, NC 28301

• Fayetteville Area System of Transit (FAST) Transit Center - 502-598 Franklin Street, Fayetteville, NC 28301

• Cumberland County Parks & Recreation - 121 Lamon Street, Fayetteville, NC 28301

• Cumberland County Public Health Department - 1235 Ramsey St., Fayetteville, NC 28301

• Cliffdale Recreation Center - 6404 Cliffdale Rd., Fayetteville, NC 28314

• College Lakes Recreation Center - 4945 Rosehill Rd., Fayetteville, NC 28311

• Eastover Recreation Center - 3637 Pembroke Ln., Fayetteville, NC 28312

• E. E. Miller Recreation Center - 1347 Rim Rd., Fayetteville, NC 28314

• G. B. Myers Recreation Center - 1018 Rochester Dr., Fayetteville, NC 28305

• John Dover "J.D." Pone Sr. Recreation Center at Gray's Creek - 2964 School Rd., Hope Mills, NC 28348

• J.S. Spivey Recreation Center - 500 Fisher St., Fayetteville, NC 28301

• Kiwanis Recreation Center and Honeycutt Park - 352 Devers St., Fayetteville, NC 28303

• Cumberland County Lake Rim Recreation Center - 1455 Hoke Loop Rd., Fayetteville, NC 28314

• Massey Hill Recreation Center & Park - 1612 Camden Rd., Fayetteville, NC 28306

• Pine Forest Recreation Center - 6901 Ramsey St., Fayetteville, NC 28311

• Smith Recreation Center - 1520 Slater Ave., Fayetteville, NC 28301

• Stedman Recreation Center - 175 Circle Dr., Stedman, NC 28391

• Spring Lake Recreation Center - 245 Ruth Street, Fayetteville, NC 28305

• Spring Lake Senior Center - 301 Ruth Street, Fayetteville, NC 28305

• Stoney Point Recreation Center - 7411 Rockfish Rd., Fayetteville, NC 28306

• Westover Recreation Center - 267 Bonanza Dr., Fayetteville, NC 28303

•Dorothy Gilmore Therapeutic Recreation Center (Gilmore Therapeutic Center) - 1600 Purdue Dr., Fayetteville, NC 28304

• Bill Crisp Senior Center - 7560 Raeford Rd., Fayetteville, NC 28304

• Fayetteville Senior Center - 739 Blue St., Fayetteville, NC 28301

•Tokay Senior Fitness Center - 328 Hamilton St., Fayetteville, NC 28301

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