Warming centers and shelters available for those in need

The Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services Department (PHHS) coordinates a network of warming and cooling centers in the community during extreme temperatures. As the temperature begins to drop, the public is reminded of several locations in Columbia available to those who need shelter from the extreme cold.

Warming centers are available to the general public during the building’s normal business hours. The public is allowed access to public areas, such as lobbies, restrooms, drinking fountains, etc. Official shelters provide sleeping accommodations. These locations may or may not include meals. View a map of these locations. This page also includes phone numbers for all locations and business hours for each of the warming centers.

Cold Weather Tips

In order to reduce cold weather threats, consider these simple precautions:

  • Dress warm and stay dry.
  • Wear a hat, scarf and mittens.
  • Do not ignore shivering. Shivering is a sign that the body is losing heat. If shivering persists, go indoors.
  • Know the warning signs for hypothermia, an abnormally low body temperature. Continued exposure to cold temperatures can cause confusion, drowsiness, clumsiness and exhaustion.
  • Know the signs and symptoms for frostbite, or injury to the body caused by freezing. Frostbite mostly affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers and toes. Signs include tingling and numbness, white or grayish yellow areas of skin and skin that feels waxy. Be safe while outdoors in winter elements.
  • Avoid ice-covered walkways, be cautious while shoveling snow and clearing walkways.
  • Avoid traveling on ice-covered roads, overpasses and bridges.
  • Limit outdoor time for children and monitor for signs of frostbite or hypothermia.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who could be at high risk of cold-related injury or illness including elderly, those who are fighting an illness and people who do not have access to adequate heat.
  • Provide proper shelter for pets. If pets or livestock must remain outdoors, provide fresh water and food supplies on a regular basis.
  • If you become stranded in your vehicle, cover your body with extra clothing and remain in your vehicle.

Additionally, the Division of Human Services at PHHS administers two utility assistance lottery programs for qualified Boone County residents. HELP provides one-time utility assistance to low-income families with young children in the home and CASH, which provides utility assistance to low-income senior citizens and persons with disabilities. For more information on either of these programs, please contact PHHS at 573-817-6430.