Shelters are in dire need of mittens as gloves as Saskatoon remains blanketed in winter.
“We’re very desperate.” Friendship Inn director Sandra Stack said. “We have no gloves or mitts. We have lots of toques and scarves, and we have very few jackets.”
Stack said men’s winter clothing is also in short supply and the are always accepting donations at their 20th Street location. She said she didn’t personally see any cases of frostbite over the weekend but they have seen cases this winter.
The lack of gloves was echoed by Lighthouse representative DeeAnn Mercier, who said they felt the pinch over the weekend when temperatures dipped below -40 C with the windchill. She said the shelter was packed over the weekend.
“We try hard not to turn away anybody. If we had to add extra beds in our classroom or put more cots in a space, we would definitely do that,” Mercier said, they work with other local shelters to make sure everyone in need has a warm place to stay.
The Lighthouse’s mobile outreach is also out 16 hours every day checking on regular shelter users and bringing them to the facility. Mercier said they had extra staff on hand and more food made in preparation for the cold.
However, the Friendship Inn actually saw near record lows of meals handed out during the city’s first cold weather warning of the year.
“We only served 57 on Saturday for breakfast. Usually we’re at least 400 or 500,” Stack said, adding while it’s good people are staying in their homes or shelters during the cold weather, she hopes they are also getting nutritious food.
M.D. Ambulance director Troy Davies said they didn’t receive any calls about frostbite problems, but he said Saskatchewan’s cold weather poses unique challenges for paramedics.
“When we hit the -30s, -40s, we start to see hypothermia and frostbite as secondary injuries,” he said.
Davies said calls like seniors falling outside get full lights and sirens when the temperature plummets.
“Lying on the sidewalk and you’re a senior, even though you’re not suffering from cold, you’re suffering from a twisted ankle, that other element’s going to kick in quickly if we don’t get there,” he said.
Paramedics also have to treat patients as quickly as they can at car crash scenes to avoid a patient going into shock of an intravenous line freezing.
Workers also have to take care of themselves. Davies said workers can’t wear winter gloves while putting in a needle or doing delicate work in the back of a cold ambulance so their hands are at risk of frostbite or clamping up in the cold.