State Health Department advising caution during extreme weather

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(Missourinet) – Bitterly cold temperatures and dangerously cold wind chills have settled in Missouri and are predicted to last through Thursday.

Kirksville in northeast Missouri hit a low of -16 F Monday morning with a wind chill of -34. St. Joseph was also extremely frigid at -12 F with a wind chill of -32.

St. Louis, Kansas City and the state’s capitol of Jefferson City hit a low of -6, while Columbia in mid-Missouri reached -8 Monday morning.

The state Department of Health and Senior Services is urging Missourians to minimize outside activities during the extreme cold and follow key safety tips.

Residents are advised to find a warming station if they have no access to heated indoor sheltering.  A complete list of warming stations is available at the Health and Senior Services website.

Also, check on neighbors, especially senior citizens and disabled adults to make sure they’re using adequate and safe heating sources.

Anybody having to be outside should dress in several layers of loose fitting clothing, which provides the most insulation for bitterly cold weather. Outdoor activity should be scheduled during the warmest part of the day, which is typically between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

More information for dealing the current extreme weather conditions in Missouri are provided by the state Health and Senior Services Department below.

  • Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
    • Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and pale or waxy white appearance of extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, or the tip of the nose. Other signs may include numbness, a tingling or stinging sensation in the affected body part, and reduced blood flow. If any of these symptoms are detected, please seek help immediately.
    • The warning signs of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. In infants, the skin will turn bright red and cold, and they may present with a very low energy level. If any of these signs appear get the victim to a warm location immediately and call 911 for immediate medical assistance.
  • Increase your fluid intake – regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink fluids. Avoid alcohol.
    • Ensure infants and children drink adequate amounts of liquids.
  • Medications can also increase the risk of temperature related illnesses. Some of these medications include antidepressants, antihistamines, heart medications, diuretics, and chemotherapy drugs. Always consult with your doctor regarding the medications you are taking.
  • Make sure your car is properly winterized. Keep your gas tank filled. Prepare an emergency kit including blankets, a flashlight, waterproof matches, non-perishable foods, and water.
  • Ensure you have sufficient heating fuel, as well as alternative emergency heating equipment in case you lose electricity. When using alternative heating sources, such as a generator, a fireplace, wood stove or space heater, take necessary safety precautions:
    • Carbon Monoxide is odorless, colorless gas that can cause flu-like illness or death. Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen during extreme cold weather when individuals try warming their homes through unconventional methods.
    • Never heat your home with a gas stove, oven, kerosene heater, or charcoal or propane barbecue grill.
    • Make sure all heating devices are properly ventilated and always operate a generator outdoors and at least 20 feet away from any window, door, or vent in your home. Improper heating devices can lead to dangerous carbon monoxide buildup in the home.
    • Test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
    • Keep a fire extinguisher handy and ensure everyone knows how to use it properly.
    • Place anything that can burn easily at least three feet away from space heaters.
    • Do NOT run a car or truck inside a garage that is attached to your house, even if the door is open.
    • If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, call 911 immediately and get the victim to fresh air.
  • Limit outdoor time for your pets. They are also susceptible to the extreme cold temperatures.
  • For additional information regarding Extreme Cold Safety tips, click here or contact your local health department. The state’s toll-free, adult abuse and neglect hotline can be used to report any elderly persons who may be suffering from extreme cold temperatures and need assistance. The number is 1-800-392-0210 and operates 365 days per year from 7 a.m. to 12 a.m.