(INDEPENDENCE, Mo.) Friday, January 3, 2014 - Because of the bitterly cold weather forecast through Tuesday, January 7, the National Weather Service has issued a Special Weather Statement to be in effect until further notice. This Special Weather Statement states, "This upcoming cold air outbreak will bring the coldest 48-hour period to parts of Northern Missouri and Eastern Kansas since at least 1996."
Due to this extreme cold weather forecast, the Parks and Recreation Department will open the Roger T. Sermon Community Center as a Warming Center for those who may not have adequate home heating capability or need a place to get out of the cold for a while. Located at 201 North Dodgion (southeast corner of Noland and Truman Road), the Sermon Center will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Monday night, January 6.
The Salvation Army will provide emergency overnight sheltering operations and open an overnight Warming Center at their east Independence location, 14700 East Truman Road. The emergency overnight shelter will be open through Tuesday, January 7. Citizens wishing to use the emergency overnight sheltering service are required to submit to drug and breathalyzer tests, as well as provide a Social Security Number and valid identification. The overnight Warming Center will be open beginning at 8 p.m., Saturday, January 4 through Tuesday morning, January 7. Citizens are urged to follow the Salvation Army’s normal conduct policies for entry into the shelter or Warming Center areas.
The Mid-Continent Public Library branches located in Independence will provide Warming Center services throughout this cold weather timeframe. They will be open during their normal business hours for those who need a warm place out of the bitterly cold weather. The North Independence Branch, located at 317 West 24 Highway, will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, January 4; from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, January 5; and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, January 6 through Thursday, January 9.
The South Independence Branch, located at 13700 East 35th Street, will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, January 4; closed Sunday, January 5; and open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, January 6 through Thursday, January 9.
The Mid-Continent Public Library’s Midwest Genealogy Center, 3440 South Lee’s Summit Road, will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, January 4; closed Sunday, January 5; and open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, January 6 through Thursday, January 9.
Health Director Larry Jones urges those who do not have a place to take shelter from the cold weather to do so in any of the locations listed. These Warming Centers maintain comfortably heated areas with water and potentially other services, depending on the location selected. Those using any of the Warming Centers should bring personal items such as medicine and ready-to-eat snacks.
"The term ‘Warming Center’ is used because it will serve as a place for people to take refuge from the cold," Jones said. "It is a place to sit, have a drink of water and warm up. Few, if any, other services are provided. Of course, if medical attention is required for an emergency, appropriate help will be contacted to respond."
In order to prevent cold injury from the cold weather, Jones encourages citizens to follow some simple guidelines. If going out into the cold, drink plenty of water, dress in light, layered clothing, have warm gloves and a hat, and cover all exposed skin areas. "Skin can freeze in a matter of a minute or two," Jones stated. "The best cold injury prevention is not going out into the cold unless absolutely necessary."
Fire Chief Sandy Schiess provided some additional cold weather safety tips for this type of weather. "People can prevent frozen pipes by opening sink cabinet doors to allow warm air to flow around pipes. Running water at a fast drip will also help prevent freezing pipes," Schiess said. "Make sure your smoke detectors are functional, use only approved heating devices and keep combustibles away from these heat sources. This is a bad time for anyone to experience a house fire."
"Don’t forget about your pets during this frigid weather" said Carol Leibold, Volunteer Coordinator for the Independence/Eastern Jackson County Disaster Animal Response Team (DART). "We want everyone to know their pets’ limits as related to the cold. Whimpering, extreme shivering or severe limping could be signs of animal hypothermia."
For additional information on cold-related injuries, please contact the Independence Health Department at (816) 325-7185. For additional warming center information, contact the Emergency Preparedness Division at (816) 325-7167.