Homeless given shelter as J'lem braces for snowstorm

Body of 50-year-old man, presumably homeless, found on south TA street after apparently dying of hypothermia.

snow jerusalem 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
snow jerusalem 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
All homeless people in Jerusalem will be offered hotel accommodations during the inclement weather expected in the area in the coming days, Mayor Uri Lupolianski announced on Monday. According to the plan, dubbed "Warm Home," welfare officials in the city have been instructed to provide shelter for the homeless until the cold front passes. In addition, all Jerusalem residents are being asked to phone the municipality and report any homeless people they see on the street. Early Monday morning, the body of a 50-year-old man, presumably homeless, was found on a south Tel-Aviv street. Police said the man apparently died of hypothermia, having collapsed on the street while walking. Paramedics, who pronounced the man dead on the scene, said he had been found lying with a piece of bread in his outstretched hand. This was the latest of several fatalities caused by the recent cold wave. Victims have included an eight-year-old Beduin girl who froze to death in her shack, senior citizens who lived in unheated flats and did not wake up, and numerous homeless people. On Sunday, Jerusalem went on alert after meteorologists forecast snow in the capital starting Tuesday evening. Municipal workers are on standby to clear streets and salt main roads to prevent freezing, while the city's 106 hotline will be manned by extra staff, the city said Sunday. A number of organizations and authorities are also gearing up for the snow. Magen David Adom is boosting its professional and volunteer staff. Ambulances with four-wheel drive have been prepared, along with chains for the tires of other emergency vehicles. If roads leading to hospitals are blocked with snow and are not accessible in emergencies, municipal offices will be asked to give them first priority for clearing. MDA has reissued protocols among ambulance staffers for treating hypothermia victims, and they have also received warm gloves and special warm suits. Babies, young children and the elderly should take care to warm their homes to temperatures between 21º and 24º Celsius, insulate doors and windows and wear layers of warm clothing. The public should stay alert and air rooms out to avoid carbon monoxide leaks from heating equipment, and should wear hats, warm coats and gloves when going outdoors. Drivers should avoid using their vehicles when the roads are covered with snow, drive extra carefully if they do go out and report all accidents they see, MDA said. Yad Sarah is also preparing to help people cope with the snow. Patients who need urgent transport to hospitals or clinics, such as those who undergo kidney dialysis or cancer treatment, can get help by calling *6444 from any phone. Some 25 Nechonit vans and other vehicles for transporting the wheelchair-bound will be supplied with chains to enable them to move through snowy and icy streets. If there is a significant amount of snow, medical equipment loan centers and emergency beeper centers will function on an emergency basis and will be boosted by additional volunteers if necessary. Temperatures are expected to hit freezing Tuesday night; inclement weather has been forecast for Monday night through Thursday. Jerusalem gets a heavy snowfall once every seven years on average. Meanwhile, ski fans are advised to avoid risks ahead of the opening of the Neve Ativ site on Mt. Hermon for the first time this season. Dr. Assa Lev-El, head of orthopedics at Ziv Hospital in Safed, says muscle pains among skiers physically unprepared for the exertion are generally the most common complaints. One should prepare the body for skiing with warmups for the thighs and arms. He also advises skiers to wear layers of clothing while skiing in order to minimize harm during a fall or other injury. If a skier's knees "pop" after a fall on the slopes, he or she should go for medical attention immediately; if the injury is untreated, it can become very serious.