• January 28, 2022
 Extreme Weather Task Force, Riverside High StuCo drive-thru blanket drive set for Saturday

Extreme Weather Task Force, Riverside High StuCo drive-thru blanket drive set for Saturday

Wednesday morning, officials with the Extreme Weather Task Force announced that they are partnering with the Riverside High School Student Council for “Share The Warmth” drive-thru blanket drive.

“For every blanket a student donates, they will get one hour of community volunteer hours,” says Grace Ortiz, APS Community Engagement Specialist and EWTF Chair. “Students need the hours to graduate, so it’s a win-win for all involved.”

The drive is set for this Saturday, December 12th from 10am-12noon in the school parking lot at 301 Midway Drive.

The El Paso Fire Department’s mascot “Sparky” will be there along with a fire truck. WellCare and Texas Medical Care Plans are also helping sponsor the event.

“Our goal is not simply to collect and distribute free blankets, we want to check on people and educate the community on how to stay safe in cold weather,” said Ortiz.

During the past 3 years, the Extreme Weather Task Force (EWTF) has collected and delivered almost 2,000 free blankets to the elderly and needy families in our community.

To help save lives, the EWTF stresses use of the “Buddy System.”  This simply involves having a trusted relative, friend or neighbor contact an elderly or disabled person daily during a cold wave. A Buddy encourages an at-risk individual to stay warm by wearing layers of clothes, to eat well, drink plenty of fluids and heat their home safely.  If there are errands to be done, the Buddy does them, or makes sure they get done.

Those most at-risk for hypothermia include:  elderly people with inadequate food, clothing or heating; babies sleeping in cold bedrooms; children left unattended; adults under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs; mentally ill individuals; people who remain outdoors for long periods (the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc.)

New blanket donations can be dropped off any time at El Paso and Horizon City fire stations.  Corporate and monetary donations are welcome payable to the APS Silver Star Board.

The mailing address is: Attention – Grace Ortiz, Adult Protective Services, 401 East Franklin, Suite 350.

Those in need of a blanket (who meet EWTF criteria) should call 2-1-1.  For more information contact: Grace Ortiz at 915-667-0206 or graciela.ortiz@dfps.state.tx.us


Tips for Preventing Hypothermia

  • If you must be outside during cold weather, wear appropriate clothing:

o    A hat

o    A scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth

o    Sleeves that are snug at the wrist

o    Mittens (they are warmer than gloves)

o    Water-resistant coat and shoes

o    Several layers of loose-fitting clothing

Wool, silk, or polypropylene inner layers of clothing will hold more body heat than cotton.  Stay dry — wet clothing chills the body rapidly.  Excess perspiration will increase heat loss, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm.  Also, avoid getting gasoline or alcohol on your skin while de-icing and fueling your automobile.  These materials in contact with the skin greatly increase heat loss from the body.

  • Eat well-balanced meals will help you stay warmer. Do not drink alcoholic beverages — they cause your body to lose heat more rapidly. Instead, drink warm, sweet beverages such as hot chocolate to help maintain your body temperature.  If you have any dietary restrictions, ask your doctor.

Recognizing the Warnings Signs of Hypothermia

If you notice signs of hypothermia, take the person’s temperature.  If it is below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, the situation is an emergency, get medical attention right away.


  • Shivering, exhaustion
  • Confusion, fumbling hands
  • Memory loss, slurred speech
  • Drowsiness


  • Bright red, cold skin
  • Very low energy

Tips for Heating your Home Safely

If you plan to use a wood stove, fireplace, or space heater, be extremely careful.  Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and remember these safety tips:

  • Use fireplace, wood stoves, or other combustion heaters only if they are properly vented to the outside and do leak flue gas into the indoor air space.
  • Do not burn paper in a fire place.
  • Ensure adequate ventilation if you must use a kerosene heater.
  • Do not place a space heater within three (3) feet of anything that may catch on fire, such as drapes, furniture, or bedding, and never cover your space heater.
  • Never place a space heater on top of furniture of near water.
  • Never leave children unattended near a space heater.
  • Make sure that the cord of an electric space heater is not a tripping hazard but do not run the cord under carpets or rugs.
  • Avoid using extension cords to plug in your space heater.
  • If your space heater has a damaged electrical cord or produces sparks, do not use it.
  • Store a multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher near the area to be heated.
  • Protect yourself from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning by installing a battery-operated CO detector and never using generators, grills, camp stoves, or similar devices indoors.

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