Red Cross offers safety tips ahead of winter weather

The American Red Cross is coordinating with local emergency management officials and community partners for potential community needs as winter weather is expected to move into the area along with the potential for severe storms.

The first winter storm of the season is expected in Missouri on New Year’s Day, according to the National Weather Service. Heavy snowfall is possible in northwest and central Missouri with possible ice accumulations from central to southern Missouri. Dangerous cold temperatures and life-endangering wind chills are also expected in portions of the Missouri and Arkansas area. The Kansas side of the Kansas City area also is under a winter weather advisory on Saturday and Sunday.

American Red Cross of Missouri and Arkansas offers the following tips to stay safe during these possible weather situations:

• Assemble an emergency preparedness kit to ensure you and your family have enough bottled water, non-perishable food, and other items to stay safe at home for a few days without power if needed. For a specific list of items:
• If you must travel, keep the vehicle’s gas tank full to keep the fuel line from freezing and if you are required to stop due to traffic issues or detours.
• Carry the following in your vehicle: windshield scraper, small broom, sand or cat litter for traction, emergency supply kit with bottled water, non-perishable food, medications, and warm clothing/blankets.
• Stay indoors if possible and wear warm clothes. Layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing will keep you warmer than a bulky sweater. If you feel too warm, remove layers to avoid sweating; if you feel chilled, add layers.
• Check on relatives, neighbors, and friends, particularly if they are elderly or live alone.
• Protect pipes from freezing by taking the following precautions.:
o Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
o Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
o When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing.
o Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
o If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
o See additional tips

• The following steps are suggested to help pipes thaw:
o If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
o Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
o Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
o Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you can’t thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
o Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.

• Stay safe outside:
If you must go outside, protect yourself from winter storm hazards:
o Wear layered clothing, mittens or gloves, and a hat. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Mittens or gloves and a hat will prevent the loss of body heat.
o Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from severely cold air. Avoid taking deep breaths; minimize talking.
o Watch for signs of hypothermia and frostbite.
o Know the signs of hypothermia – confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. If someone has these symptoms, they should get immediate medical attention.
o Watch for symptoms of frostbite including numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness or waxy feeling skin.
o Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses much of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly away from the body.

Pet safety
Winter is difficult on pets. Learn how to keep your furry friends safe during this cold, snowy weather. Bring animals inside or ensure they have access to appropriate shelter, food and non-frozen water outside.

Download Red Cross APPS Download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to weather alerts for their area and where loved ones live. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid App in case travelers encounter any mishaps. Both apps are available to download for free in app stores or at

Winter storm begins late tonight

Wyandotte County is under a winter weather advisory from 3 a.m. Jan. 1 through midnight Jan. 2. (National Weather Service graphic)
Wyandotte County could get up to 3 inches of snow on Saturday. (National Weather Service graphic)
Little to no ice accumulation is in the forecast for Wyandotte County. (National Weather Service graphic)
Sunday morning’s low temperature will be near 0 degrees. (National Weather Service graphic)
Sunday morning’s wind chill could range from minus 4 to minus 9 in Wyandotte County. (National Weather Service graphic)

The forecast for New Year’s Day, Saturday, is a wintry mix followed by 1 to 3 inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service.

A winter weather advisory will be in effect from 3 a.m. Jan. 1 through midnight Jan. 2, the weather service said.

Today, Friday, will see a high near 57 before temperatures drop to freezing around 11 p.m., the weather service said. When the new year arrives at midnight, expect temperatures to be about 31 degrees. Temperatures will fall throughout Saturday, ending at about 8 degrees by 11 p.m. Saturday night.

Snow and freezing rain could start after midnight tonight, according to the forecast, with sleet added later. Precipitation will build from the south after midnight, with the storm intensifying throughout Saturday.

Up to a half-inch of sleet is possible along the I-70 corridor, including the Kansas City metropolitan area, according to the weather service.

After 10 a.m. Saturday, the storm will change to all snow, the weather service said. Heavy snow could continue through around 5 p.m. Saturday, with lighter snow possibly continuing through 11 p.m. Saturday. The wind chill could drop to minus 4 to minus 9 on Saturday night.

Temperatures will be subfreezing until Monday, when they will rise to 40, according to the weather service.

The weather service advised residents to plan on slippery road conditions tonight and Saturday, and to slow down and use caution while traveling. Road conditions are available by calling 5-1-1.

Today, it will be partly sunny, with a high near 57 and a south wind of 5 to 10 mph becoming northwest in the afternoon, the weather service said. Winds may gust as high as 22 mph.

Tonight, New Year’s Eve, snow, freezing rain and sleet are likely before 4 a.m., then sleet, possibly mixed with freezing rain between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m., then sleet likely after 5 a.m., according to the weather service. The low will be around 19. A north northeast wind of 11 to 16 mph will gust as high as 25 mph. The chance of precipitation is 70 percent. Little or no ice accumulation is expected. New snow and sleet accumulation of less than a half-inch is possible.

Saturday, New Year’s Day, snow, possibly mixed with sleet, will become all snow after 10 a.m., the weather service said. Patchy blowing snow is possible between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Temperatures will fall to around 9 by 5 p.m. The wind chill will be between minus 8 and 2. It will be blustery, with a north wind of 16 to 20 mph, gusting as high as 30 mph. New snow and sleet accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

Saturday night, there is a 40 percent chance of snow before midnight, according to the weather service. The low will be around minus 1, and wind chill values will be between minus 4 and minus 9. A north northwest wind of 8 to 14 mph will gust as high as 23 mph.

Sunday, it will be sunny, with a high near 19, the weather service said. A north northwest wind of 5 to 7 mph will become light and variable in the afternoon.

Sunday night, it will be clear, with a low around 9, according to the weather service.

Monday, it will be sunny, with a high near 40, the weather service said.

Monday night, it will be mostly clear, with a low of 28, according to the weather service.

Tuesday, it will be mostly sunny, with a high near 43, the weather service said.

Tuesday night, it will be partly cloudy, with a low of 19, according to the weather service.

Wednesday, it will be mostly sunny, with a high near 31, the weather service said.

Wednesday night, it will be mostly cloudy, with a low of 10, according to the weather service.

Thursday, it will be partly sunny, with a high near 19, the weather service said.

For more weather information, visit

UG Commission approves temporary cold weather shelter at Reardon Center

The Unified Government Commission on Thursday night voted unanimously to approve a temporary cold weather shelter at the Reardon Center.

Several community members and social service workers spoke in favor of the shelter, warning that people left outside during the coming cold weather this weekend could lose limbs or their lives.

Mayor Tyrone Garner told the group he was in favor of helping the homeless. However, he had unanswered questions about the plans to place the shelter at the Reardon Center, and that is why he had delayed the shelter’s opening.

He said most of his questions were answered Thursday night by those who are working on the sheleter plans. One question he still had was about adequate security at the shelter.

Several other issues, such as what they will do with the homeless after the sun rises and it’s still very cold outside, and whether there was transportation available to take them to day programs, was a concern, he said. He was also concerned about identifying individuals and working with them to find long-term solutions.

Mayor Garner also said one of his campaign issues was to address poverty and homelessness in Wyandotte County, working on a long-range plan.

He did not want to close the shelter, Mayor Garner said, but he wanted to provide resources in a safe environment so it could be successful.

Rob Santel, director of housing solutions at Cross-Lines Community Outreach, explained the details of the project.

Santel said the shelter will be open when it is 25 degrees or below. Their guests would be able to arrive from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and there would be a hotline for them to call. As many as 35 individuals could be sheltered there.

Professional staff will be on hand, and there will be staff overnight, Santel said. They are trained in de-escalation. Guests will be provided with a tent to sleep in while at the center.

Santel noted that even though they were open last year, there still were three people at a local hospital on the same floor who had to have amputations of their feet from their exposure to the cold weather.

The staff will have conversations about housing with individuals to try to get them into permanent housing, he said.

The center will provide a hot meal in the evening and breakfast in the morning, he said.

“Our goal is to go unnoticed,” Santel said. They have been keeping a low profile, and they did not want to create a situation where all the other communities would bring homeless people into this shelter, according to Santel.

He said they have consulted with an epidemiologist and with the Fire Department on their safety plans, and they have a safe procedure ready to go tomorrow night.

Some of the UG commissioners echoed Garner’s statement that they were unaware of what was going on with the shelter plans, and they wanted more information.

Commissioner Tom Burroughs said communication is key to the things they do within the community, and there was not a commissioner on the board who was insensitive to the needs of the homeless.

He said it was important for the commission to receive information about the community programs, and that everyone has to be at the table to move forward.

Commissioner Christian Ramirez said he supported the resolution to open the shelter. He added they could sit down with members of the community and find a solution that is long term.

He said he was motivated to fight for the homeless, and that population has always heard, “wait.” For far too long, they have been told to wait, he added.

The only drawback he saw was that while a few commissioners worked on the project and provided input, the rest of the commission was not notified about it and did not know the contract had already been signed. He said he felt “blindsided.” His only criticism was with the process, he added.

Commissioner Gayle Townsend asked for more details to be provided on the project, since they had not heard the details, and then Santel provided the details.

Commissioner Andrew Davis said, “This is embarrassing, and you all deserve better from us.”

He was in favor of the resolution, and the homeless center, as they do not have an alternative plan in place, he said.

He called for more communication, and also favored a task force or commission to work on a long-term solution.

Several community comments were received.

Dustin Hare of Wyandotte County Mutual Aid, has been working with the unhoused for two years and said he supported opening the Reardon Center to get people into a shelter from the cold weather. He said they lost a couple of people on the Missouri side of the state line when the weather got cold, and he didn’t want to see that happen here.

“It’s freezing outside, please help these folks,” said Chester Bell. He added the shelter was an opportunity for the homeless to get other services as well.

Susila Jones, executive director of Cross-Lines, said this was a community collaborative of several agencies to save the limbs and lives of people who are unhoused. These agencies are staffing the shelter with people who work everyday with the homeless.

Patrick Ishmael, a resident of nearby Strawberry Hll, said there should have been more community engagement. They were just finding out about the UG meeting about 20 minutes before it started, he said. Community engagement should have been started long ago, he said.

Helen Collins supported opening the Reardon Center to the homeless.

She said the community does need to get together and have meetings about it.

“This hurts my heart to hear about the homeless,” Collins said.

“Where’s our moral compass?” Charles Carney of the Prescott neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas, asked. Society will be judged on how it treats the most vulnerable, he added.

Rachel Erpelding, executive director of Kim Wilson Housing, said to close the shelter when the weather is about to turn cold is not acceptable. There is a need to serve the most vulnerable, who have no place to go when it is cold out.

Reece Towers, whose business office is located near the shelter, said it was a shock that it was even taking place.

“We were told 30 organizations were contacted,” she said. “We were not contacted.”

She added she is all for helping people, but the community should have been involved in this.