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Landscape photograph of Shawnee Mission Park at sunset in winter

Community braces for frigid temperatures

With extreme temperatures in the forecast for this week, Johnson County departments and agencies are raising awareness of resources and information to combat the cold.

All braches of the Johnson County Library are designated warming centers for anyone in need of shelter from the elements. In addition to staying out of the cold, residents can read books or magazines, or use one of the computers. Each branch serves as a warming space during normal business hours.

“It’s, of course, critically important to dress warmly,” says Department of Health and Environment Director Lougene Marsh.

With these low temperatures, both frostbite and hypothermia are risks. Warnings signs of hypothermia are shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness. Seek medical attention quickly if you have these symptoms. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes.

Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and severe cases can lead to amputation. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and among people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures. Hypothermia and frostbite often do go hand in hand, but they do not always happen together. Residents should seek medical attention immediately if either of these are suspected.

Frozen water pipes are another concern for these low temperatures. Weather scientists advise taking precaution whenever the temperature is around 20 degrees or below. Disconnecting hoses or outdoor faucets, setting the thermostat at 65 degrees or above, keeping the garage door closed, and opening cabinet doors under sinks are all ways to help prevent frozen pipes. Residents can visit WaterOne’s tutorial on frozen pipe prevention for more detailed information.

Automobiles are also included on the list of everyday items impacted by extreme cold. Making sure to have antifreeze in the radiator and at least half a tank of gas are two ways to help prevent damage to vehicles. The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office regularly reminds residents not to start their automobiles and leave them unattended. This is every car thief’s dream.

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