ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- The approaching winter storm combined with the brutal cold temperatures has city leaders joining forces to try and keep everyone including pets safe.
"This is an extreme situation," said St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay about the massive and lengthy winter blast about to hit St. Louis.
"Even a short time in the deep freeze can cause permanent injury or even death," said Slay.
The city`s emergency operations center will open Saturday afternoon and will remain open until the winter blast lets up.
"The cold weather will not pose a problem for police services and our ability to respond and will actually step up our response to those areas of need because of the cold weather," said St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson.
St. Louis Health Commissioner Melba Moore added, "Safety tips just a few- dress in layers both inside and out, wear a hat and gloves, and try to have as little as possible skin exposed."
One concern is for the homeless. An extra warming center is being opened in the city on Sunday.
Teams including city police will also check on the homeless who refuse to come inside.
"Those are individuals that we are going to be watching all night. We`re going to get help from the police department- they`re going to be based on information we provide to check on these individuals to make sure that nobody freezes to death," said Bill Siedhoff, the Director for the St. Louis Department of Human Services.
There is also concern for pets.
Authorities will confiscate pets that are left in the cold and cite or possibly prosecute irresponsible pet owners for cruelty to animals.
"Usually this time of year I give out a ton of tips of what to do for your dog to keep them warm. But I only have one tip, and that`s bring your pets inside or they will die," said Randy Grim, the head of Stray Rescue.
'We all know someone, whether it`s a neighbor, a family member, or a pet that somebody may have that is at risk- we all have to be thinking about these things and doing what we can not only to help ourselves safe but what we can to help others as well,' added Mayor Slay.
Heat-Up St. Louis is also helping seniors, the disabled and low income households with winter heating bills.
You can call heat up St. Louis to see if you qualify or if you want to help by donating to the group.