BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — Bitter cold temperatures like central Illinois is seeing this week pose dangers to people if they’re outside too long.

In McLean County, many places are offering their buildings as an escape from the frigid temperatures.

One of the first places many might look for a place to warm up from the subzero cold is homeless shelters, but due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, most places that would traditionally open their doors are having to turn people elsewhere.

“We are not telling people that they can stay in our building to warm up before moving on,” said CEO of Home Sweet Home Ministries Matt Burgess.

Home Sweet Home Ministries in Bloomington would normally allow people to stay in their lobby as long as they need to escape the cold. However, right now case levels are too high in the community to allow that service.

“We’re being very strict about who can be in the building so that we protect the folks that reside in the shelter as much as we can,” Burgess said.

Burgess said while non-residents cannot stay long, they can come in quickly, grab a sack lunch and take a free pair of gloves and other winter attire should they need it.

“When things subside again, obviously we’ll open our doors as widely as we can,” Burgess said.

While HSHM and other shelters are bound by COVID-19 restrictions, locally many businesses offer a place to escape the cold if only even for a few hours.

Cathy Beck, acting director of McLean County’s Emergency Management Agency said there are many businesses acting as warming centers.

“Typically grocery stores, the big box stores, truck stops; those are all places that you can get in for a couple of hours if you need to warm up then head back out to where your destination was,” Beck said.

Beck said it’s important in this cold of temperatures to dress in at least three layers in order to avoid frostbite and hypothermia.

“Older people and young children are more susceptible to that,” Beck said.

Signs of hypothermia include lethargy, shivering, and confusion.

Other warming centers in the area include Normal’s Uptown Station, both the Bloomington and Normal Public Libraries, and in rural areas most town fire stations.

A full list of warming centers can be found below.