VIDEO: Ice fishing igloos are protecting unhoused communities in OC from record-low temperatures

ABC 7 Los Angeles
March 4, 2023

Canvas ice fishing tents known as igloos are popping up throughout Orange County to help save the lives of members of the unhoused community during record-breaking cold weather.


Michael Sean Wright, the chief of field operations with the nonprofit Wound Walk, said the streak of record-breaking low temperatures blanketing Southern California’s mountains with snow and central OC with graupel poses a great threat to the homeless.

“They were so warm and easy to pop up,” Wright said of the tents. “The reality is that L.A. experiences more hypothermic incidents than New York because we’re not prepared for it.” This past Saturday, in Westminster, pods came just in time for more than two dozen people.

“We had patients presenting with extreme hypothermia, so we were able to stabilize. In that particular area, you’re gonna get 911 calls and PD calls. That night we didn’t have any,” Wright said. The number of people seeking shelter from the cold nearly doubled when the pods went to Anaheim this past Wednesday night. “There’s such a big gap in this healthcare for this population that only street medicine will be able to resolve,” said Antalique Tran, a street medicine technician. “We can’t do it from top down it has to be out in the field.”

Wright said the igloos are designed to radiate heat to the center with very little electricity necessary, preventing parking lots from filling up with generators. Volunteers said they hoped a night out of the cold could change a life.

“When we get up in the morning, we can actually see a different person and that person feels so different that we’ll introduce the idea of, ‘Let’s chase this. Do you want to continue to feel good?'” Wright said. The nonprofit runs out of the Lestonnac Free Clinic of OC.

The clinic’s Executive Director, Edward Gerber, said the igloos were hard to come by in Southern California. The igloos currently in use had to be ordered from Michigan. As of Thursday, Wright said Wound Walk had enough igloos to shelter 65 people.

Anyone wanting to donate to the nonprofit to help them with their efforts can head to their website.

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