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Cold-Related Injuries

NCH Winter Emergency Shelters Resources

Winter is Coming Infographic (2020) | This winter presents many challenges to organizations providing care for people experiencing homelessness. A complement to the issue brief, this infographic highlights six of these challenges and links to the three webinars in our Winter is Coming series. 

COVID-19 & the HCH Community: Six Crises Leading into Winter 2020 (2020) | This issue brief focuses on the challenges of the upcoming winter season—COVID-19, flu season, winter weather, evictions, social upheaval, and collective trauma—and the essential actions that emergency response systems, state/local governments, and direct service organizations need to take in order to protect people experiencing homelessness as temperatures drop.

Winter is Coming: Cold Weather & Disasters (2020) | This webinar addresses how to prepare, plan, and respond to extreme cold weather and the corresponding health issues for those living outdoors, as well as natural disasters such as hurricanes and fires.

Developing a Cold Weather Sheltering Plan for People Experiencing Homelessness (2012)| This webinar will provide an overview of cold weather injuries and illnesses common to people who are experiencing homelessness and explore a program model that provided 11,195 guest-nights in over 150 emergency warming centers to residents of Boulder, Colorado, in the 2010-11 winter season.

Winter Homeless Services: Bringing Our Neighbors in from the Cold (2010) | Seven hundred people experiencing or at risk of homelessness are killed from hypothermia annually in the United States. Forty-four percent of the nation’s homeless are unsheltered. From the urban streets of our populated cities to the remote back-country of rural America, hypothermia – or subnormal temperature in the body – remains a leading, critical and preventable cause of injury and death among those experiencing homelessness. The National Coalition for the Homeless has published Winter Homeless Services: Bringing Our Neighbors in from the Cold to raise awareness of the dangers and consequences of hypothermia on people experiencing homelessness.

Quick Tips for Shelter & Outreach Providers (2010) | Quick Tips for shelter providers/outreach staff for keeping people warm in cold weather and recognizing and dealing with hypothermia and frostbite. Health Care for the Homeless Network, Public Health – Seattle & King County

Exposure-Related Conditions: Symptoms & Prevention Strategies (2007) | Exposure-related conditions are a constant reality faced by homeless individuals who spend most days and many nights outside. Without shelter against the elements, they are dependent on mild temperatures and dry weather for a tolerable existence. And while some people who live on the streets may have tents or cardboard structures to provide a modicum of protection and privacy, they are still susceptible to hypo- or hyperthermia as well as associated maladies including frostbite, sunburn, and heat exhaustion. Those who are very young, old, malnourished or exhausted are at increased risk of serious health problems from exposure to temperature extremes. This issue discusses signs and symptoms of cold- and heat-related pathologies and how to prevent them.

A Case of Trench Foot in a Homeless Woman (2007) | This article describes a cold-related tissue injury that may be overlooked by healthcare practitioners who treat homeless clients: trench foot. Trench foot is a preventable condition which can be mitigated by early intervention but which, because it occurs at above-freezing temperatures, might go unrecognized and untreated. The sequelae of unrecognized and untreated trench foot can be dire.

NHCHC Media Experts: COVID-19

To request an interview with a National Health Care for the Homeless Council staff or community member, contact Terri Woodmore, Communications Manager.

Council Staff

Hugo Aguas, MA

Research Associate

Hugo works with the research team to research health outcomes using data driven methodologies, Hugo collaborates with other community health partners throughout the country to develop educational materials pertaining to medical care for those experiencing homelessness. Hugo also disseminates data and provides ease-of-access to community partners throughout the nation, and assists in writing publications and scheduling educational seminars on public health amongst those experiencing homelessness.



Barbara DiPietro, PhD

Senior Director of Policy

Barbara directs the policy and advocacy activities for the National Health Care for the Homeless Council. This includes conducting policy analysis, providing educational materials and presentations to a broad range of policymakers and other stakeholders, coordinating the Council’s policy priorities with national partners, and organizing staff assistance to the Policy Committee and the National Consumer Advisory Board.



Tineciaa Harris MSPH, MS

Clinical and Quality Improvement Manager

Tineciaa works to improve the clinical environment in health centers broadly through education, training, technical assistance, and policy with a focus on quality improvement. Tineciaa operates on the national level in frequent partnership with both federal and non-profit organizations and leads initiatives that seek to improve health outcomes for people experiencing homelessness.



Katie League, LCSW-C

COVID-19 Project Manager (Policy Team)

Katie works with the policy team to support the Council’s efforts surrounding the COVID-19 global pandemic. She works to identify and promote promising practices, common challenges, and key policy issues faced by the HCH community.




Courtney Pladsen, DNP, FNP-BC, RN

Director of Clinical and Quality Improvement

Courtney Pladsen leads initiatives to improve the delivery of primary care, substance use treatment, and mental health care nationally. She directs training and quality improvement initiatives, and contributes to research and policy recommendations on emerging clinical issues affecting people experiencing homelessness.

Bobby Watts

Bobby Watts, MPH, MS

Chief Executive Officer

Bobby Watts has 30 years of experience in administration, direct service, and implementation of homeless health services, beginning as a live-in counselor at the New York City Rescue Mission. He spent most of his career prior to joining the Council at Care for the Homeless, which operates clinics and shelters and conducts policy analysis and advocacy in New York City.

HCH Community Experts


Kristie Hartig, MSN, RN, PHN, CWOCN
Topeka, KS

Erin Ryan, MSW, MPH
Senior Vice President, The Night Ministry
Chicago, IL

Return to main Experts Guide page


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