With weekend temperatures expected to be low across the country it is a good idea to protect yourself and help others who may be at increased risk of health problems from the cold. Seniors, infants, the homeless, and those with chronic medical conditions are at increased risk. If you know of friends, neighbors, or family members who may be at risk check in on them to sure their heat is working and that they are OK.
In the event your heat is out at home, take measures to trap existing warm air and safely stay warm including: Hang blankets over windows and doorways and stay in a well-insulated room if your heat is out. • Dress warmly. Wear hats, scarves, gloves, and layered clothing. • If you have a working fireplace, use it for heat and light, but be sure to keep the damper open for ventilation. • Do not use your oven or fuel-burning space heaters to heat your home. These can release carbon monoxide, a deadly gas that you cannot see or smell. • Open your faucets to a steady drip so pipes do not freeze.
Fire safety tips: Space heaters are temporary heating devices and should only be used for a limited time each day. • Keep combustible materials, including furniture, drapes, and carpeting at least three feet away from the heat source. Never drape clothes over a space heater to dry them. • Never leave children alone in the room where a space heater is running. Always keep an eye on heating equipment. Turn it off when you are unable to closely monitor it. • Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Never use an extension cord or power strip. Do not plug anything else into the same outlet when the space heater is in use. Do not use space heaters with frayed or damaged cords.
Carbon monoxide safety tips: • Carbon monoxide comes from the burning of fuel. Therefore, make sure all fuel-burning devices such as furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters, and clothes dryers are properly vented to the outdoors and operating properly. If you are not sure, contact a professional to inspect and make necessary repairs. • Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector. If you have a working fireplace keep chimneys clean and clear of debris. • Never heat your home with a gas stove or oven, charcoal barbecue grill, or kerosene, propane, or oil-burning heaters. • The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are non-specific and include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, sleepiness, trouble breathing, and loss of consciousness. Severe poisonings may result in permanent injury or death. • If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, call 911, get the victim to fresh air immediately, and open windows.
Staying Warm Outdoors Exposure to cold can be life-threatening. Avoid serious conditions such as frostbite and hypothermia by taking steps to keep warm. • Wear a hat, hood, or scarf, as most heat is lost through the head. • Wear layers as they provide better insulation and warmth. • Keep fingertips, earlobes, and noses covered if you go outside. • Keep clothing dry; if a layer becomes wet, remove it. – Drinking alcohol may make you think you feel warmer but actually increases your chances of hypothermia and frostbite. – Shivering is an important first sign that the body is losing heat. Shivering is a signal to return indoors. •
For more information, see: www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/coldstress/. For more information about cold weather safety and how you can prepare for emergencies call 311 or visit www.nyc.gov/oem.