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Johnson County Government urges residents to take cold weather precautions

As the region faces freezing temperatures and potential snow this weekend, Johnson County Government is encouraging residents to prepare ahead of time by being informed of the locations of warming centers, signs of cold-weather health concerns, and updating vehicle and home emergency kits.

Libraries available as warming centers

Johnson County Library encourages citizens who need a place to warm up during cold temperatures to visit one of 13 Johnson County library branches. All facilities will be available during business hours.

Call 913-826-4600 to check hours of operation for your nearest library branch or visit the library online.

Cold-weather health concerns

Winter temperatures can cause serious health problems.

When exposed to cold temperatures, the body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged cold exposure will eventually deplete the body’s stored energy and result in hypothermia.

Johnson County Department of Health and Environment recommends residents know the warning signs of hypothermia and frostbite.

Hypothermia symptoms include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness. Seek medical attention immediately if these signs appear.

Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers and toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body and severe cases can lead to amputation.

At the first signs of redness or pain, get out of the cold and protect any exposed skin. A victim of frostbite is often unaware until someone else points it out because frozen tissues become numb. If you detect frostbite symptoms, seek medical care.

JCDHE recommends the following if there is frostbite, but no sign of hypothermia and immediate medical care is not available:

  • Get to a warm location as soon as possible.
  • Unless necessary, do not walk on frostbitten feet or toes — this increases damage.
  • Immerse the affected area in warm — not hot — water. The temperature should be comfortable to the touch for unaffected body parts.
  • Warm the affected area with body heat.
  • Do not rub the frostbitten area with snow or massage the area at all. This can cause more damage.
  • Do not use a heating pad, heat lamp or the heat of a stove, fireplace or radiator for warming. Affected areas are numb and can be easily burned.

Go online for more information about winter weather health issues.

Update home, vehicle emergency kits

Johnson County Emergency Management officials urge residents to increase winter weather preparedness by adding simple items to vehicle emergency kits including a cell phone charger, warm blankets and a flashlight. If traveling through hazardous winter conditions, add a snow shovel and kitty litter in case you become stranded. If you are traveling a long distance or to remote locations, add water, snacks and a paper map. Ensuring someone knows about your travel plans is critical.

County officials recommend residents have enough supplies at home for each family member to shelter-in-place for up to three days. Items recommended include bottled water, non-perishable food and canned goods, first-aid kit, weather radio, flashlights, batteries, blankets, medical supplies and prescriptions, pet supplies and family entertainment.

Visit joco72.org for more information on emergency kits.

Sign up for NotifyJoCo emergency alerts

Johnson County residents are encouraged to sign up for emergency alert information online. Residents may sign up for emergency information for up to five locations in Johnson County such as work, home, child’s daycare or school.