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(COLUMBIA, MO) - As temperatures rise during the summer months, Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services (PHHS) reminds residents about the resources available to assist community members seeking relief from the weather and the health risks involved with extreme heat.

Cooling centers are available to the general public during the building's normal business hours. Residents can access public areas, such as lobbies, restrooms, drinking fountains, etc. Columbia's current cooling centers include:
  • Activity & Recreation Center (ARC) at 1701 W. Ash St. - 573.874.7700
  • Boone County Government Center at 801 E. Walnut St. - 573.886.4305
  • Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services at 1005 W. Worley St. - 573.874.7355
  • Salvation Army Harbor House at 602 N. Ann St. - 573.442.1984
  • St. Francis House at 901 Range Line St. - 573.875.4913

For the most updated list of cooling centers and their business hours, please visit CoMo.gov/Health/Human-Services/Warming-and-Cooling-Centers.

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Exposure to extreme heat can cause a variety of health problems, including heatstroke and even death. Those at greatest risk for heat-related illness include infants and children up to 4 years old, people 65 years old and older, and people who are ill or on certain medications.

Heatstroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body's temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails and the body is unable to cool down. Body temperature may rise to 106 degrees or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heatstroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided. Warning signs of heatstroke vary but may include an extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees); red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating); rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headache; dizziness; nausea; confusion and loss of consciousness.

Heat-related illnesses or death are preventable by following a few simple steps:
  • Stay in an air-conditioned area during the hottest hours of the day. Public cooling centers are available to the general public.
  • Wear light, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Drink water often. Don't wait until you are thirsty. Stay hydrated.
  • Avoid unnecessary hard work or activities if you are outside or in a building without air conditioning.
  • Avoid unnecessary sun exposure. When in the sun, wear a hat, preferably with a wide brim.
  • Apply sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes prior to going out. Continue to reapply it according to the package directions. Look for sunscreens that say "broad spectrum" or "UVA/UVB protection" on their labels, these products work best.

PHHS also offers two lottery programs to assist qualifying residents with paying their utility bills. H.E.L.P. provides assistance one time annually (five times per lifetime) to low-income families with young children in the home and C.A.S.H., a program that provides assistance to low-income seniors citizens and persons with disabilities.

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For more information on cooling centers or utility assistance programs, please visit CoMo.gov/Health.

Filed Under: Government, City

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