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Below zero temperatures are coming to Kansas City. What should you do if you lose heat?

In World
January 10, 2024

With sub-zero temperatures expected in Kansas City this week, the cold weather might feel unbearable outdoors. Even more if your rental house or apartment does not have heat.

Temperatures in Kansas City are expected to drop down to negative 7 degrees on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. Wind chill could drop as low as minus 25 on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

More than 20,000 residents across the Kansas City metro were out of power Tuesday morning due to the overnight snowstorm, Evergy announced. During a brutally cold Christmas weekend in 2022, dozens of Kansas City tenants lost heat for days.

Here’s how to prepare for a power outage or loss of heat — or what to do if your heat is broken in your rental:

How can I prepare for a winter power outage or loss of heat?

Here’s what should be in your emergency kit, according to the Missouri Public Service Commission:

  • Bottled water (a three-day supply on hand.)

  • Ready-to-eat food

  • Manual can opener

  • Battery-operated radio, clock, flashlights and extra batteries

  • Blankets

  • First aid kit

Here are tips from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security if your power goes out:

  • Keep your freezer and refrigerator closed to keep food fresh as long as possible

  • Use a generator, but ONLY outdoors and away from windows

  • Do not use a gas stove or oven for heating

  • Avoid damage from electrical surges by disconnecting appliances and electronics

  • Have other plans for refrigerating medicines or using power-dependent medical devices.

  • Check with local officials about nearby heating and cooling locations

To avoid freezing pipes, according to insurance company State Farm:

  • During freezing weather, let your faucet drip, keep your thermostat on the same setting day and night, and open your cabinet doors.

  • Ahead of storms, make sure your pipes are well insulated, seal any leaks and secure outdoor valves and faucets.

  • You can also install heat tape or heat cables to help prevent freezing in the future

How to keep your water pipes from freezing during upcoming cold weather in Kansas City

As a tenant, do I have a right to heat in my home?

If you don’t have heat and it’s not due to a power outage you’ll need to contact your landlord.

In Kansas, landlords are required to provide working heating equipment that can be set to at least 68 degrees between October and May.

In Missouri, it’s illegal for a landlord to shut off a tenant’s utilities while someone is living there. In addition, Missouri’s Cold Weather Rule prohibits gas or electricity companies from disconnecting heat when the temperature will be below freezing the next day. It also allows residents to only make minimum payments.

Kansas City residents have additional protections from the Tenant’s Bill of Rights, passed by the City Council, which states, “Tenants have the right to housing that can be heated to a habitable temperature.”

What do I do if my heat isn’t working during the winter?

If you own a home, fixing the heat is on you. If you’re a renter, here are your options:

You should reach out to your landlord as soon as possible and in writing to see if they will fix the issue, Michelle Albano with Legal Aid of Western Missouri previously told The Star. Make sure you save any emails or texts between you and your landlord. This advice is relevant in both Missouri and Kansas, according to a 2022 interview with Kevin Thompson, a tenant attorney with Kansas Legal Services.

In some cities, you can also contact local government inspectors to see if the property is up to safety standards. This can be helpful if your landlord is not responding.

What if my landlord does not fix the heat on their own?

If your heat is not restored, contact a housing advocate or attorney. Here is a list of organizations to help you through the process:

What if I can’t afford rent or utilities?

If you need help paying for housing needs, the United Way of Greater Kansas City has this list of local programs that can help, depending on which county or city you live in. Call 211 to get resources.

How can I find a warming center?

While you’re waiting for your heat to return, head to a warming center during the day. Facilities like libraries and community centers open their doors for people to heat up.

Click these links for a list of warming centers in Jackson and Wyandotte Counties.

Star reporter Joseph Hernandez and former reporter Kynala Phillips contributed to this story.

Do you have more questions about extreme weather in Kansas City? The Service Journalism team is here to help. Send us your questions at [email protected] or fill out the form below.

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