GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - When the temperatures drop, not everyone will have a roof over their heads. That's why several local shelters are opening their doors this week.
"We have been putting out cots. We have been gathering our donations, getting blankets cleaned, sheets cleaned and gathering volunteers to be ready to work the cold weather shelter," said Laura Bianco.
According to Bianco, the Gulfport Salvation Army shelter had an average of 60 to 70 people every night they were open last year.
"Because of last year's cold weather snap, we were open over 40 days, and we were open earlier last year, so it taught it us a lesson to prepare earlier," said Bianco.
Those who stay at the shelter are provided a hot dinner and breakfast, but there are some rules guests must comply with.
"People that stay here, we make sure that we check their bags to make sure that there aren't any guns or any other items that shouldn't be here. We also do a breathalyzer test," said Bianco.
For South Mississippians who won't be utilizing a shelter on frigid cold nights, be sure to check your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors.
"Make sure the batteries are in good working order. Make sure the equipment itself is in good working order, as well as do a visual inspection and hit the test button to make sure the audible sounds are working properly," said Lt. Jason Hair, with the Pass Christian Fire Department.
If you're using anything other than central heat, like a space heater, keep a close eye on it as well.
"You definitely want to make sure with a space heater that you keep it up right and level at all times. You want to keep it away from obstructions such as furniture, curtains, anything like that," said Hair.
Those are some tips to keep you safe as Old Man Winter makes his first appearance this year.
Both the Salvation Army and Harrison County shelters are taking donations for coffee, coffee cups, sugar and creamer.
The Salvation Army will also take pillows, blankets and clothing.