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Cooling Centers Open in Springfield

With the excessive heat bearing down on much of the Ozarks, several locations have opened their doors to residents who need a cool place to stay. KSMU’s Missy Shelton reports.

Cooling centers in Springfield include the American Red Cross, located on West Bypass, the YMCA downtown, and the YMCA on East Republic Road. These locations are serving as cooling centers during their regular business hours. City Utilities is offering free bus service to these three locations for the duration of the heat warning. The Salvation Army facility located on West Chestnut Expressway is also open as a cooling center. Jeff Smith is social services director for the Salvation Army.

Smith says, “Any time the National Weather Service issues a heat advisory or an excessive heat warning, the Salvation Army will open as a cooling center until that warning expires. During that time, people can come in and get relief from the heat. We have our air-conditioned building open 24 hours a day.”

Even though the facility is open around the clock, Smith says the facility is not able to accommodate people who need a place to spend the night. Smith says in previous years, people have stopped into the Salvation Army during very hot weather.

Smith says, “There are a lot of people who don’t necessarily drive to work. They’re riding their bike, walking, or riding the bus and this is just a nice stop along the way for them.”

To stay safe when temperatures climb into the mid 90’s and beyond, you should drink plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty, wear loose-fitting, light clothing, avoid strenuous activities outside during the hottest parts of the day, and spend time in air-conditioned facilities if your home is not air conditioned. Katie Towns-Jeter is the spokeswoman for the Springfield-Greene County Health Department. She says there have been reported heat-related illnesses in the area recently.

Towns-Jeter says, “Heat-related illnesses are very serious. Heat exhaustion can be characterized by extreme sweating, paleness, tiredness, muscle cramping, sometimes even nausea, vomiting, and fainting. If a person is exhibiting these symptoms, make sure that you help them get cool, give them some water and monitor those symptoms.”

Public health officials say the elderly, children, and pets are especially vulnerable to the effects of excessive heat.