For Immediate Release
NYC EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AND THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT ADVISE NEW YORKERS TO PREPARE FOR COLD WEATHER THROUGH THE WEEKEND
December 5, 2018 — The New York City Emergency Management Department and the Health Department advise individuals to prepare for cold temperatures through the weekend. According to the latest National Weather Service forecast, temperatures Wednesday night are below freezing with wind chill values in the low to mid-20s. Temperatures Thursday through Sunday are forecast to be low to mid-30s, with wind chill values in the low to mid-20s. The coldest period is expected to be Friday night with temperatures in the mid-20s and wind chill values in the teens. A chance of flurries is possible Wednesday night, with a possibility for a half inch of snow Thursday night into early Friday morning.
Cold weather can cause or worsen health problems. Certain individuals, including the unsheltered homeless, people with disabilities and those with access and functional needs are at an increased risk for injuries, illness or death. Others at an increased risk also include people who drink heavily or use drugs and become incapacitated outdoors, or those who live in homes without heat, and:
• Are 65 years of age or older.
• Are infants.
• Have certain medical conditions such as heart or lung disease, high blood pressure, diabetes.
• Have serious mental health conditions or developmental disabilities.
To learn more about winter weather safety, visit the Health Department’s interactive online infographic.
Prolonged exposure to cold can lead to frostbite – which often results in red and painful or pale skin – and hypothermia. Symptoms of hypothermia include:
• Intense shivering
• Trouble speaking
• Lack of coordination
• Sluggishness or drowsiness
• Shallow breathing
If you see symptoms of hypothermia or frostbite, call 911 and follow instructions, or go to the emergency room.
“With the low temperatures and even lower wind chills, make sure you bundle up when you go outdoors,” said NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Esposito. “Check in on elderly family members and neighbors and others who are at risk due to the cold weather.”
• If you have to go outdoors, wear dry, warm clothing and cover exposed skin. Keep fingertips, earlobes, and noses covered. Wear a hat, hood, scarf, and gloves.
• Shivering is an important first sign that the body is losing heat. Shivering is a signal to return indoors.
• Be safe at work. Workers who spend a lot of time outdoors are at risk for cold-related health impacts. If you are an employer, implement safe work practices, provide appropriate protective equipment, and train workers on how to stay safe during cold and winter weather.
• Limit alcohol intake. Drinking alcohol may make you feel warmer but it causes your body to lose heat faster. Alcohol also impairs your judgment, which limits your ability to take appropriate precautions or remove yourself from a dangerously cold environment in time. As a result, alcohol actually increases your chances of hypothermia and frostbite.
A Code Blue Weather Emergency notice is issued when the temperature is forecast to drop to 32 degrees Fahrenheit or less between 4 p.m. and 8 a.m., including National Weather Service calculations for wind chill values. No one who is homeless and seeking shelter in New York City during a Code Blue will be denied. Should you see an individual who appears to be homeless and in need out in the cold, please call 311 and an outreach team will be dispatched to offer assistance. During Code Blue Weather emergencies, experienced outreach teams work to connect homeless New Yorkers with the following resources:
• Shelters: During a Code Blue, shelter is available system-wide to accommodate anyone who is reasonably believed to be homeless and is brought to a shelter by outreach teams. Accommodations are also available for walk-ins.
• Drop-in centers: All drop-in centers are open 24-hours per day, including when Code Blue procedures are in effect, and will assist as many people as possible for the duration of the emergency. Drop-in staff and the dedicated outreach teams they work closely with each day can also make arrangements for homeless individuals at other citywide facilities.
• Safe havens and stabilization beds: Chronically homeless individuals may be transported directly to these low-threshold housing programs.
• Street homeless outreach: Teams will contact vulnerable individuals on their Code Blue Priority Lists a minimum of once every four (4) hours beginning at 8 p.m. during Code Blue Alerts and once every two (2) hours beginning at 8 p.m. for Enhanced Code Blue Alerts to encourage them to accept services, including transportation to a shelter placement. DSS coordinates borough-level Code Blue efforts directly with partner City agencies, including but not limited to NYPD, DSNY, and the Parks Department.
Housing Preservation and Development
Residential building owners are legally required to maintain indoor temperatures at 68 degrees when the temperatures fall below 55 degrees outside during the day and a minimum of 62 degrees indoors overnight, regardless of outdoor temperatures. If an apartment lacks appropriate heat, a tenant should first attempt to notify the building owner, managing agent or superintendent. If heat is not restored, the tenant should register an official complaint via 311. Tenants can call 311, visit 311 online at NYC.gov/311, or use the 311 mobile app (on Android and iOS devices) to file a complaint. Hearing-impaired tenants can register complaints via a Touchtone Device for the Deaf TDD at (212) 504-4115.The center is open 24-hours a day, seven-days a week.
The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) will take measures to ensure that the building owner is complying with the law. This may include contacting the building’s owner and/or sending an inspector to verify the complaint and issue a violation directing the owner to restore heat and hot water if appropriate. If the owner fails to comply and does not restore service, HPD may initiate repairs through its Emergency Repair Program and bill the landlord for the cost of the work. HPD may also initiate legal action against properties that are issued heat violations, and owners who incur multiple heat violations are subject to litigation seeking maximum litigation penalties and continued scrutiny on heat and other code deficiencies.
Take measures to trap existing warm air and safely stay warm until heat returns, including:
• Insulate your home as much as possible. Hang blankets over windows and doorways and stay in a well-insulated room while the heat is out.
• Dress warmly. Wear hats, scarves, gloves, and layered clothing.
• If you have a well-maintained working fireplace and use it for heat and light, be sure to keep the damper open for ventilation. Never use a fireplace without a screen.
• If the cold persists and your heat is not restored call family, neighbors, or friends to see if you can stay with them.
• 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.
If You Need Emergency Heating Assistance
The Human Resources Administration (HRA) administers the federal Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), which can help low-income renters and homeowners with heating bills and other energy expenses. HEAP can help with:
• Regular heating bills from a variety of heat sources (even if heat is included in your rent or you live in subsidized housing).
• Emergency payments to keep you from losing your heat.
• Replacing damaged furnaces, boilers and heating units.
Eligibility for HEAP is based on your household income, family size, and energy costs. If you are homebound and need help with your heating bills, you can call the NYC Heat Line at 212-331-3150 to arrange a home visit. For more information, call 311.
For more safety tips, visit NYC.gov/EmergencyManagement. New Yorkers are also encouraged to download the Notify NYC mobile application, which is available for free download from iTunes or Google Play. Notify NYC is the City’s free emergency notification system. Through Notify NYC, New Yorkers can also receive phone calls, text messages, and/or email alerts about winter weather conditions and other emergencies. To learn more about the Notify NYC program or to sign up, visit NYC.gov/NotifyNYC or call 311. You can also follow @NotifyNYC on Twitter.
MEDIA CONTACT: Omar Bourne (718) 422-4888
STAY CONNECTED: Twitter: @NotifyNYC (emergency notifications)
@nycemergencymgt (emergency preparedness info)