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Cold weather protocol activated in Connecticut

"We must spread the word that shelters and warming centers are open all across Connecticut."

HARTFORD, Conn. — With severe cold predicted for the next 24 to 36 hours, Gov. Ned Lamont has activated the state's severe cold weather protocol as of Monday morning. 

In a tweet, the governor said: "The first brutally cold weather of the season is about to move into CT tonight. I am directing the state's severe cold weather protocol to be activated today through Wednesday. Shelters are open across the state. Anyone in need should call 2-1-1."

Warning center information here Infoline 211 

The protocol works to ensure that the state's most vulnerable populations receive protection from the expected severe weather conditions.

While enacted, a system is set up for state agencies and municipalities to coordinate with United Way 2-1-1 and Connecticut’s network of shelters to make sure that anyone in need can receive shelter from the outdoors, including transportation to shelters.

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“Being outdoors in these arctic conditions for extended periods is not safe, and we must spread the word that shelters and warming centers are open all across Connecticut," Lamont said. "If you or someone you know is in need of shelter, call 2-1-1 and they will direct you to a nearby location and they can also provide transportation if necessary.”

In Vernon, The Cornerstone Foundation has already been in the winter warming process since Dec. 1. It has four shelters that are available 24 hours a day.

"We also run a soup kitchen and a food pantry so if people are having difficulty eating or feeding their family because of heating costs we can help them out with that," said executive director, Sharon Redfern.

The frigid temperatures can make for dangerous conditions. Experts advise people to avoid going outdoors for an extended period of time, and if they must go out, layer up.

"The trick to staying warm is have a lot of loose layers, so if you can have a thing layer and then a couple bit thicker layers," said Rachel Dowty Beech, assistant professor of emergency management at the University of New Haven. "If you do need to go outside for any amount of time make sure to have a very thick coat, gloves and a balaclava," she said.

Experts also advise people know the signs of hypothermia. 

"If you feel your face going numb, slurred speech, you feel yourself getting drowsy those are the beginning signs of hypothermia," Dowty Beech said. "Our bodies are hardwired to try to protect our organs so our extremities are going to be the things that are giving us the signals first. So fingers, toes, legs, arms," she said.

RELATED: Tips for getting through winter safely

The following actions are implemented while the protocol is enacted:

  • The Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection’s Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security activates its WebEOC communications network, which is an internet-based system that enables local, regional, and state emergency management officials and first responders to share up-to-date information about a variety of situations and conditions. The system is used to monitor capacity at shelters across the state, enabling 2-1-1 to act as a clearinghouse to assist in finding shelter space for those who need it. Local officials, working through WebEOC, can alert 2-1-1 and the state when they open temporary shelters or warming centers.
  • The Connecticut Department of Social Services, Connecticut Department of Housing, and Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services coordinate with 2-1-1 and the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, along with community-based providers, to provide transportation for people seeking shelter.

RELATED: Bitter cold to start the week

For emergency management news and resources, visit the state’s CTPrepares website at ct.gov/ctprepares or download the CTPrepares app to mobile devices at the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

Doug Stewart is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. He can be reached at dstewart@fox61.com.

Gaby Molina is a reporter and anchor at FOX61 News. She can be reached at gmolina@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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