Staying warm proves a challenge as power outages linger, more winter weather expected

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- During the peak of this weekend's winter storm, 160,000 Kansas City Power & Light customers lost power. At this point, roughly 11,000 are still out.

Not all of the outages occurred on Saturday. New outages continue to pop up as heavy wet snow and trees fall onto power lines.

As they work to restore power, utility crews are working long shifts.

“They’re tired but doing a great job. We put them on for 16-hour shifts. They come off for eight hours, then go on for 16 hours again, and it's the same for crews from other states,” said Katie McDonald with KCPL.

About 2,000 workers are on the job, many of them coming from other parts of the Midwest.

Meanwhile, if you're still out of electricity, staying warm is a challenge.

Tree trimmers are a welcome sight in one Waldo neighborhood. It's a step toward getting power restored, which has been out for many since Saturday morning.

“When I see these guys out here working, I personally go thank them. I know they’re under a load, and I’m appreciative of it,” homeowner Steve Brosseit said.

Brosseit's house is still dark. He's closed off many rooms to keep his living area around 70 degrees since the bedrooms have now dropped below 50.

Although he's optimistic power will be restored soon, he's not ready to admit that it might not last long with another round of winter weather set to hit this week.

“I don't believe them! It is what it is. Don’t mess with Mother Nature!” Brosseit said.

Many are learning lessons from this lengthy winter power outage. Some people have set up tents inside or put up portable camping heaters to stay warm. Hot Hands pouches can also be helpful inside pillows or sleeping bags.

FOX4 talked with some experts for tips on how to stay safe and warm.

“You want to stay under blankets. If you have family members or pets with you, it’s a good time to cuddle up and share that body heat. Try to minimize going outside as much as you can to keep the warm air in that you do have,” said Jennifer Fales, Kansas City emergency management coordinator with the emergency operations center.

While tempting, don't try makeshift heaters like clay pot heaters or use a gas stove to stay warm. Fires and carbon monoxide are serious risks.

“We also want to remind people not to burn outside the fireplace. People have brought in barrels, buckets, chimeneas. These are all things I’ve encountered throughout my career, and they’re very dangerous,” said Jimmy Walker, Kansas City Fire Department Deputy Chief.

And if temperatures dip as low as predicted, it might be best to leave your home if you can, so the cold doesn't become deadly.

“In extreme circumstance, we may open warming shelters, and so you can check the city’s website, kcmo.gov, to see if that’s happening and checking in with the Red Cross to see where other warming centers will be,” Fales said.

And a reminder: If your power goes out and you happen to be cooking, disconnect your stove before you go anywhere. KCFD had two fires this weekend where a homeowner's stove kicked back on when the power was restored and the cook-top caught fire.

Something else to keep in mind for future storms is a class offered by Kansas City’s office of emergency management. You can learn to become part of the community emergency response team, or CERT.

The training courses are free and teach you how to prepare for and even help during all kinds of disasters. The next set of classes is planned for February. You can learn more or sign up by calling 816-513-8603 or emailing christopher.carroll@kcmo.org.

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