March 7, 2018
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Issues Winter Storm Update

TOP Governor Cuomo Issues Winter Storm Update

National Guard Deployment Doubles to 400; Strike Force Will Conduct Wellness Checks in Dutchess, Putnam, Sullivan, Orange and Westchester Counties 

Travel Advisory in Effect for All Areas East of I-81 

Tractor Trailers Banned on New York State Thruway from Exit 36 in Syracuse to the New York City Line 

Other Tractor Trailer Restrictions Include I-88, I-84, I-684 and Portions of Route 17 

I-81 Open to Tractor Trailer Traffic, Ban Remains for Empty Trailers and Tandems

Storm Assistance Hotline Provides Updates to Public on Shelters, Warming Centers, Power Outages - Call 866-697-2434

WYSIWYG

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today updated New Yorkers on the status of storm response operations as a second Nor'easter moves through the state today and tomorrow.  The Mid-Hudson Valley Region was hit the hardest during last week's storm and several communities remain without power. Currently there are over 26,000 customers without power, over 11,000 of which are in Westchester County. As a result, Governor Cuomo has directed the National Guard to deploy six teams comprised of four soldiers and two vehicles each, to locations throughout Dutchess, Putnam, Westchester, Orange, and Sullivan counties to conduct wellness checks on residents and provide additional support to communities as needed. Additionally, Governor Cuomo issued a travel advisory which is in effect for all areas east of I-81 as well as a travel ban on tractor trailers on certain roads which began at 8 a.m. today. Tandem trailers and empty trailers only are banned on I-81 from the Pennsylvania line to the New York State Thruway.

"This is a dangerous storm, and we are continuing our efforts to place personnel, equipment and assets throughout the state to make sure we are ready and responding within a moment's notice," Governor Cuomo said. "We have been in constant communication with local leaders and emergency managers and are listening to what their communities need and will continue these efforts until the job is done. With snow expected to fall at 2 inches per hour at times, I urge anyone who doesn't have to drive to avoid all unnecessary travel and stay home."

The Governor has activated a toll free hotline for New Yorkers to call to get updates on weather, power outage restoration times, and shelters and warming centers in their area. New Yorkers are urged to call 866-697-2434 for assistance. Additionally, the State Emergency Operations Center is activated with transportation agencies and the Emergency Service Mass Care Team led by the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Individual Assistance Recovery Staff and comprised of the State Department of Health, American Red Cross and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to assist with sheltering. The EOC is activated through Friday at 6 p.m.  

The storm has moved east and is expected to bring more snow to the New York City Region and less to the Syracuse area. Snow will be heaviest during the afternoon and evening hours with snowfall rates up to 2 inches per hour at times. Travel will be difficult due to heavy snow and reduced visibility Wednesday, especially during the evening commute, through Thursday morning.  

The western Mohawk Valley, Central New York and Southern Tier regions, east of I-81 and west of the Catskills are expecting 9 to 13 inches of snow and the western Catskills should receive 12 to 16 inches. West of I-81 will see 4 to 7 inches of accumulation. The Capital Region, eastern Mohawk Valley Region and the North Country will receive approximately 12 to 16 inches with pockets of up to 20 inches. In the southern and western portions of these regions, 15 to 20 inches are expected, and there could be localized amounts of 24 inches, especially at higher elevations. 

The Mid-Hudson Region, south of I-287 is expecting 9 to 13 inches and north of I-287 should see 12 to 16 inches with 19 to 24 inches at higher elevations. With the storm moving eastward, New York City and western Nassau County in Long Island could see 10 to 12 inches of snow and snowfall rates of up to 2 two inches per hour during the late afternoon and evening hours.    

Travel Restrictions

On Tuesday, Governor Cuomo issued a Travel Advisory for all areas east of I-81 as well as a travel ban on tractor trailers on certain roads that began at 8 a.m. on Wednesday. With the advisory and ban in effect, motorists are urged to avoid any travel unless absolutely necessary and all tractor trailers, tandem trailers, box trucks, and other high-profile vehicles will be restricted from entering the following roadways: 

  • New York State Thruway from Exit 36 (Syracuse) to the New York City line, including the Berkshire Spur to the Massachusetts State Line, I-95, Garden State Parkway Connector and I-287
  • I-88 from Binghamton to Albany 
  • Route 17 Binghamton to I-84
  • I-84 from the Connecticut State Line to the   Pennsylvania State Line
  • I-684 from I-84 to I-287

The New York State Police will strictly enforce the ban, and will stop and ticket anyone who is in violation.

State Agency Preparations

All New Yorkers can obtain emergency information through NY-ALERT, the state's free, all-hazards, web-based alert and notification system. To subscribe, visit nyalert.gov. If you do not own or have access to a computer, call toll-free 1-888-697-6972.

At the direction of Governor Cuomo, states of emergency have been declared in Dutchess, Putnam, Sullivan and Westchester counties and state personnel have been on the ground for days coordinating with, and providing recovery support and resources to, local governments. 

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services

At the Governor's direction, Commissioner Parrino has been deployed to the Mid-Hudson Valley Region to assess storm and power restoration efforts.  Additionally, the State Emergency Operations Center is activated for assist with the State's Transportation agencies and the Emergency Service Mass Care Team led by the Division's Individual Assistance Recovery Staff and comprised of the State Department of Health, American Red Cross and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to assist with sheltering. The EOC will be activated for this upcoming storm through Friday at 6 p.m. 

Yesterday, the Division's Office of Fire Prevention and Control proactively inspected over 55 shelters in six counties in the Mid-Hudson Region by 20 personnel with expertise in building and fire codes to ensure they are ready to accommodate an influx of citizens due to power outages. Additionally, OFPC has deployed a snow and water emergency team to the Long Island Welcome Center and a snow emergency team with tracked and high axle vehicles to the Mid-Hudson Valley Region for the duration of the storm.

Additionally, The Office of Fire Prevention and Control is distributing 1,000 traffic cones, 1,000 rolls caution tape, and over 1,000 road flares to counties in the Mid-Hudson Valley Region that are still without power from downed trees and wires.  These supplies will help these communities with traffic control.

Currently, 27 generators have been deployed to support municipalities in Westchester and Putnam counties to assist in areas that have been without power since the height of the storm. Generators and other equipment have been redeployed where the storm will be the strongest. State stockpiles are prepared with over 700 generators, over 250 light towers, approximately 1,250 pumps, almost 100,000 sandbags, over 63,800 ready to eat meals, over 340,000 cans of water, over 4,000 flashlights, thousands of cots, blankets, and pillows, almost 1,000 traffic barriers, and over 7,000 feet of Aqua Dam temporary flood barrier. Additionally, the Division is prepared with high axle vehicles, utility tracked vehicles, and a tracked sport utility vehicle.

Department of Public Service

As of this morning, utilities have restored power to more than 337,000 customers; however, over 26,000 customers remain without power, 92 percent of whom are located in Dutchess, Putnam, Sullivan and Westchester counties.

New York's utilities have a total of 4,910 in-house workers and contractors in New York working on restoration efforts. This includes 1,300 out-of-state line and tree workers from Connecticut, Maine, Michigan, Texas, Ohio, Missouri, North Carolina, Louisiana, Vermont, Iowa, Wisconsin and Canada that will be dedicated to restoration efforts in the hardest hit areas in Hudson Valley.  

The Department of Public Service has extended Call Center Helpline hours starting at 7:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., as needed, to assist consumers in their storm restoration efforts. The Department of Public Service Call Center Helpline can be reached by calling 1-800-342-3377.

Public Service Commission staff will continue to monitor the utilities' efforts during the restoration period. The utilities are prepared to respond to power disruptions throughout the event.

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo directed the New York State Department of Public Service to conduct a full review into power failures after last week's winter storm. Given the prolonged nature of the outages and clear breakdowns in communication between utilities and customers, the Department of Public Service will review the utility preparations and response to this storm, specifically targeting those utilities that serve Dutchess, Putnam, Westchester and Sullivan counties.

Below is a breakdown of outages by county: 

Outages

 

 

Bronx

205*

 

Delaware

110

 

Dutchess

1,267

 

Nassau

215

 

Orange

374

 

Putnam

5,491

 

Rockland

126

 

Sullivan

5,208

 

Westchester

12,211*

 

* Con Edison continues to have IT issues, and these numbers may differ from those on Con Edison's website.

New York State Power Authority

At the Governor's direction, New York Power Authority President and CEO Gil C. Quiniones and NYPA senior staff have been deployed to Westchester County and Sullivan County to assist with storm and power restoration efforts. NYPA and the Canal Corporation are staffing state Emergency Operations Centers, as needed, and continue to monitor weather, prepare staff for potential deployment, and ready equipment for emergency use.

New York National Guard

The New York National Guard will deploy an additional 200 service members at the direction of the Governor. Today 200 troops are on duty performing missions in Sullivan, Putnam and Westchester Counties and on call at Stewart Air National Guard Base and Camp Smith Training Site near Peekskill.

At the Governor's direction, six teams comprised of four soldiers and two vehicles each, have been pre-positioned at locations throughout Dutchess, Putnam, Westchester, Orange, and Sullivan counties to provide support to communities as needed. This includes wellness checks, shelter assistance, and any other needs identified by local law enforcement or emergency management personnel throughout the duration of the storm.

Other troops from the New York Naval Militia and New York Guard are conducting logistics and garrison support.

New York State Police

The New York State Police are adding extra patrols in affected areas for the duration of the storm. All 4x4 vehicles will be in service, and snowmobiles and Utility Terrain Vehicles will be staged and ready for deployment as needed. All Troop emergency power and communications equipment has been tested. State Troopers continue to assist in areas affected by power outages from last Friday's storm, directing traffic at intersections in Westchester, Putnam and Sullivan Counties, where signals are not operational.

New York State Thruway Authority

The Thruway Authority has 679 supervisors and operators ready to deploy 247 Large Snow Plows, 113 Medium Snow Plows, 11 Tow Plows and 54 Loaders across the state with more than 112,000 tons of road salt on hand. It has moved additional resources to the Thruway's New York Division in the Lower Mid-Hudson Valley, including eight heavy duty plow trucks and 16 plow operators. The speed limit on the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge has been reduced to 35 mph. Variable Message Signs, Highway Advisory Radio and social media are utilized to alert motorists of winter weather conditions on the Thruway.

The Thruway Authority encourages motorists to download its mobile app which is available to download for free on iPhone and Android devices. The app provides motorists direct access to real-time traffic and navigation assistance while on the go. Motorists can also sign up for TRANSalert e-mails which provide the latest traffic conditions along the Thruway by following this link: www.thruway.ny.gov/tas/index.shtml.

Department of Transportation

Acting Commissioner Paul Karas and Assistant Commissioner Sean Hennessey will be deployed to Sullivan County on Wednesday to oversee the state response in the region, while Chief of Staff Todd Westhuis is being deployed to the Hudson Valley Transportation Management Center in Westchester County.  Additionally, Assistant Commissioner Pat Meredith has been deployed to Orange County and Assistant Commissioner Thomas McIntyre is on site in Dutchess County. 

The State Department of Transportation stands ready to respond with 3,865 operators and supervisors, 1,558 large plow/dump trucks, 20 graders, 323 large loaders, 195 medium plow/dump trucks, 14 pickup trucks with plows, 51 tow plows, 19 mounted snowblower/loaders, and 22 mounted snowblower trucks.

The Department is deploying 125 operators and 49 trucks, along with four traffic signal crews, eight technicians and four fleet mechanics to various parts of the Hudson Valley. The Department is also deploying 20 extra operators to Long Island and DOT's Long Island Region has also activated 30 contractor large dump trucks and 15 pickups with plows in anticipation of the coming storm.

Motorists are reminded to check 511NY by calling 511 or by accessing www.511ny.org before traveling. The free service allows users to check road conditions and transit information. Mobile users can download the updated, free 511NY mobile app from the iTunes or Google Play stores. The app now features Drive mode, which provides audible alerts along a chosen route while a user is driving, warning them about incidents and construction. Users can set a destination prior to departing and receive information on up to three routes.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority 

New York City Transit has pre-deployed equipment and personnel in preparation for significant snow accumulation, with activities having begun Tuesday before snowfall. Equipment includes deicer trains, snowthrowers and jet snowblowers for yards and tracks, debris trains to support clearing fallen trees from tracks, third-rail heaters, track switch and stop heaters, and ice-scraping shoes installed on diesel and passenger trains. Most articulated buses will be replaced by regular buses, and all local buses will be chained. NYC Transit also deploys snow-fighting equipment to supplement plowing efforts across the city.

Additional personnel are manning special command centers for subway, bus and paratransit operations, including posting at strategic locations to respond to problems more rapidly.  Work trains will operate in open areas to keep tracks clear of snow and ice, and much construction and maintenance work will be suspended during the storm. Signal maintainers will perform winterization procedures including releasing condensation from the air line network and clearing ice from signal stop arms. Workers are sanding and salting platforms, stairs and other station surfaces and clearing accumulation as necessary. 

Subway, bus and paratransit customers should expect weather-related delays and changes in service during and immediately after the storm. FASTRACK work on the 4 and 6 lines is canceled for Wednesday night. Some express subway service may end early after the Wednesday evening rush, as underground express tracks are used to store trains normally kept in open yards. Staten Island Railway service may run local-only for the evening rush. For the latest service updates, visit www.mta.info, follow NYC Transit on Twitter at @NYCTSubway and @NYCTBus, or sign up for email and text-message updates at www.myMTAalerts.com.

MTA Metro-North Railroad

Metro-North is operating a reduced weekday schedule, providing 75 percent of normal capacity. After 8 p.m., hourly service will begin on all East of Hudson lines.

Morning rush hour ridership was down by roughly 60 percent compared to a normal rush hour, meaning the railroad was carrying 40 percent of a normal number of customers.

The railroad recommends that customers defer non-essential travel, leave plenty of time and anticipate delays because of potentially hazardous conditions.

The railroad has pre-positioned switching engines at all yards to assist any trains that may become disabled. All trains are prepared with third rail show shoes and coupler snow bags, and door tracks have been sprayed with de-icer to reduce the instances of door malfunctions. 

Personnel have been pre-positioned to clear snow and ice from station platforms and train yards, respond to fallen trees, repair any overhead wire damage and ensure proper functioning of switches. 

MTA Long Island Rail Road

Morning ridership was reported roughly 20 percent lighter this morning. The railroad is operating a regular weekday schedule and the morning rush hour service was on-or-close to schedule.

Since 10 p.m. Tuesday night, the LIRR has been operating four trains that apply deicing fluid to the railroad's third rails to reduce the chance of snow and ice buildup. 

The railroad has had additional switch heater crews active overnight to ensure functionality of the railroad's electric and gas switch heaters, which keep switches operable by preventing snow and ice buildup.

Snow clearing crews were mobilized at approximately at 2 a.m. to begin pre-salting of platforms and preparing for snow clearance activities throughout the storm. 

Rail-mounted snow blowers are pre-positioned at strategic track switching locations across railroad's service territory.

MTA Bridges and Tunnels

MTA Bridges and Tunnels is closely monitoring the conditions and staff is ready and prepared to respond to all weather-related incidents. Staffing levels will be evaluated throughout the event to ensure efficient deployment of personnel and resources. Equipment and supplies such as deicers, snow trucks with plows, facility generators, fuel, hand-held anemometers are at adequate levels and ready for use, with more than 8,600 tons of roadway deicer on hand and 104 pieces of storm fighting equipment for storm operations, including conveyors, pay loaders, front loaders, pick-up trucks with plows, for storm operations.  

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Today's Nor'easter winter storm has forced airlines to cancel a significant number of flights at JFK and LaGuardia airports as of this morning, and the Port Authority strongly urges travelers to contact their carriers before going to the airport today.

As of 2 p.m., John F. Kennedy International Airport reported 529 cancellations, which is 50 percent of its daily operations. LaGuardia reported 640 cancellations, which is about 56 percent of its average scheduled operations. Stewart International Airport has cancelled two-thirds of its scheduled flights. Additional flight cancellations are possible later today.

If warranted, the Port Authority also is prepared to partner with airlines and terminal operators to accommodate ticketed passengers who may become stranded at the airports.  Each airport is stocked with critical supplies such as cots, blankets, diapers and baby formula to provide for stranded customers. 

AirTrain JFK is running normally this morning. The Port Authority's tunnels and bridges are reporting no issues and are operating normally.  PATH is operating regular service today.

The Port Authority Bus Terminal is reporting that most long-haul carriers serving the facility -- including Greyhounds and Adirondack Trailways -- have cancelled service, and urges travelers to call their carrier before going to the facility. In addition, Shortline has also cancelled service for today. Other carriers are running reduced service. No cancellations have been reported this morning at the George Washington Bridge Bus Station.

Customers can access up-to-date information on conditions at Port Authority facilities on the Port Authority's website, which includes live feeds of its respective social media channels. In addition to the website, travelers also are encouraged to sign up for Port Authority alerts at http://www.paalerts.com/

The agency's Emergency Operations Centers at John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport have been activated. The agency's overall Emergency Operations Center in Jersey City, which oversees all Port Authority facilities, is also open. 

The Port Authority has the following winter weather equipment and supplies ready at its major transportation facilities:

  • 524 pieces of snow equipment at its airports, including melters that can liquefy up to 500 tons of snow an hour and plows that can clear snow at 40 mph;
  • 94 pieces of snow equipment at its bridges and tunnels;
  • Thousands of tons of salt and sand for airport roads and parking lots, plus thousands of tons of salt for the bridges and tunnels;
  • Hundreds of thousands of gallons of liquid anti-ice chemicals at the airports, which prevent snow and ice from bonding to runways and taxiways, plus thousands of tons of solid deicers, which break up snow and ice already on the ground;
  • Plow equipped trains, liquid snow-melting agent trains and a "jet engine" plow to remove snow from PATH tracks, and snow blowers, plows and spreaders to clear station entrances, roads that serve PATH's 13 stations, and various support facilities.

Department of Environmental Conservation

DEC Police Officers, Forest Rangers, Emergency Management staff, and regional staff are on alert and monitoring the developing situation and actively patrolling areas likely to be impacted by the storm. All available assets, including snowmobiles, boats, and utility vehicles, are ready to assist with any emergency response

Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation 

New York State Parks has alerted park police and park personnel to closely monitor weather updates. New York State Parks has more than 1,100 emergency equipment resources on hand across the state. This includes light/medium duty plows, snowmobiles, 4x4 vehicles, ATV's and portable generators. Park patrons should monitor www.nysparks.com or call their local park office for the latest updates regarding park hours, openings and closings.

Department of Agriculture and Markets

With heavy, wet snow predicted, the Department of Agriculture and Markets reminds farmers about the importance of monitoring the weight load on structures especially barns and other agricultural buildings. Cornell Cooperative Extension and PRO-DAIRY have tips for safely removing snow from roofs here and here.

Act Now to Be Prepared for Coastal Flooding 

  • Learn the safest route from your home or business to high, safe ground should you have to leave in a hurry.
  • Develop and practice a 'family escape' plan and identify a meeting place if family members become separated.
  • Make an itemized list of all valuables including furnishings, clothing and other personal property. Keep the list in a safe place.
  • Stockpile emergency supplies of canned food, medicine and first aid supplies and drinking water. Store drinking water in clean, closed containers.
  • Plan what to do with your pets.
  • Have a portable radio, flashlights, extra batteries and emergency cooking equipment available.
  • Keep your automobile fueled. If electric power is cut off, gasoline stations may not be able to pump fuel for several days. Have a small disaster supply kit in the trunk of your car.
  • Find out how many feet your property is above and below possible flood levels. When predicted flood levels are broadcast, you can determine if you may be flooded.
  • Keep materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting and lumber handy for emergency water-proofing.

Prepare for Power Outages  

Governor Cuomo urges residents to stay away from any lines that are down as they may be live, and should be considered extremely dangerous.  

Motorists are reminded that State Law mandates that if an intersection is "blacked out" and the traffic signal is not operational, the intersection is automatically a "four way" stop. In the event of closed or blocked roadways due to flooding, downed power lines or debris, motorists are advised to exercise caution and obey all traffic signs or barricades in place, regardless of whether a roadway looks clear.

New Yorkers should also check on friends, family and neighbors, especially the elderly. Power outages can affect the ability of individuals to heat their homes, which could lead to dangerously cold temperatures in the winter months.

The Governor is offering these additional safety tips:

If You Lose Power 

  • Call your utility provider to notify them of the outage and listen to local broadcasts for official information. For a list of utilities, visit the New York State Department of Public Service. Check to see if your neighbors have power. Check on people with access or functional needs.
  • Use only flashlights for emergency lighting - candles pose the risk of fire.
  • Keep refrigerators and freezer doors closed - most food requiring refrigeration can be kept safely in a closed refrigerator for several hours. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for approximately four hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours.
  • Do not use a charcoal grill indoors and do not use a gas stove for heat - they could give off harmful levels of carbon monoxide.
  • In cold weather, stay warm by dressing in layers and minimizing time spent outdoors. Be aware of cold stress symptoms (i.e., hypothermia) and seek proper medical attention if symptoms appear.

After a Power Outage

  • Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40 °F (4°C) for two or more hours, or that has an unusual odor, color or texture. "When in doubt, throw it out!"
  • If food in the freezer is colder than 40°F and has ice crystals on it, it can be re-frozen.
  • If you are concerned about medications having spoiled, contact your doctor.
  • Restock your emergency kit with fresh batteries, canned foods and other supplies. 

Before Using a Generator

During power interruptions, properly sized and installed emergency generators can safely power electrical equipment such as portable heating units, computers, water pumps, milking machines, home freezers, refrigerators and lighting. If you use an emergency generator, it is essential that you take precautions for your safety and for the safety of those working to restore power.

  • Select a proper generator by evaluating what appliances you really need to power in an emergency.
  • Read, understand and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Be sure that you fully understand the proper installation and operating procedures for your unit. If possible, have your generator installed by a qualified electrician.
  • Before installing a generator, be sure to disconnect properly from your utility electrical service.

When Operating a Generator 

Keep these key points in mind when operating an emergency generator:

  • Keep children away from generators at all times.
  • Operate outdoors in a clean, dry area.
  • Generator must be grounded properly.
  • After losing power, turn off main breaker or pull main fuse block.
  • Generators that are directly connected to existing wiring systems must use double-pole, double-throw (DPDT) transfer switch.
  • All electrical connections must comply with New York State Fire and Building Codes.
  • Do not overload generator with too many appliances.
  • Use properly sized extension cords in good condition.

Fire Hazards 

  • Generators become hot while running and remain hot for long periods after they are stopped.
  • When spilled on hot engine parts, generator fuels (gasoline, kerosene, etc.) can ignite and cause an explosion. If your generator has a detachable fuel tank, remove it before refilling. If this is not possible, shut off the generator and let it cool before refilling.
  • Gasoline and other generator fuels should be stored and transported in approved containers (properly designed and marked for their contents), and vented.
  • Do not store generator fuels in your home. Store fuels away from living areas.
  • Keep fuel containers away from flame producing and heat generating devices such as the generator itself, water heaters, cigarettes, lighters, and matches. Do not smoke around fuel containers - escaping vapors or vapors from spilled materials can travel long distances to ignition sources.
  • Be aware that you may be liable for damage or injury to people and property resulting from an improperly installed or operated emergency generator.

Alternate Heating Sources

  • Space Heaters - Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from furniture, window treatments, bedding, clothing, rugs, and other combustibles. Avoid the use of extension cords with electric heaters. Always turn off space heaters before leaving the room or going to bed.  
  • Fuel Burning Appliances -Inspect the shut off mechanism and wick for proper operation. Fill the tank with fresh fuel. Let the heater cool down before refueling. Adding fuel to a hot heater can start a dangerous fire.  
  • Wood Burning Appliances and Fireplaces - Do not burn trash in the wood stove or fireplace. Burn only well-seasoned hardwoods. Be sure the fire you build fits your fireplace or stove, don't overload it. Be sure wood stoves are installed at least 36 inches away from the wall. Keep combustible materials well away from the fireplace, stove and chimney. Keep the area around them clean. Always use a fireplace screen to prevent sparks from leaving the fireplace and starting a fire. Never leave a fire unattended.  
  • Chimneys - Creosote accumulation is the leading cause of chimney fires. A chimney that is dirty, blocked or is in disrepair can inhibit proper venting of smoke up the flue and can also cause a chimney fire. Nearly all residential fires originating in the chimney are preventable. An annual chimney inspection by a qualified chimney sweep can prevent fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.  
  • Ashes - Keep wood stoves and fireplaces free of excess ash buildup. Excessive ash buildup prevents good circulation of air needed for combustion. When removing ashes, use a metal container with a tight-fitting cover. Always place ashes in an outside location away from structures. Ashes that seem cool may contain a smoldering charcoal that can start a fire.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is produced anywhere that fuel is burned and is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States. It is an odorless, tasteless and invisible killer, and the ONLY safe way to detect it is with a carbon monoxide alarm. Carbon monoxide alarms range in price from $20 to $50 depending on additional features.  

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include sleepiness, headaches and dizziness. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, ventilate the area and get to a hospital. Other safety tips include:

  • Make sure chimneys and vents are checked for blockages, corrosion, and loose connections.
  • Open flues completely when fireplaces are in use.
  • Use proper fuel in space heaters.
  • Never burn charcoal or a barbecue grill inside a home or enclosed space.
  • Never use portable fuel-burning camping equipment inside a home, garage, or vehicle
  • Never leave a car running in an attached garage, even with the garage door open.
  • Never operate unvented fuel-burning appliances in any room where people are sleeping.
  • Never use the kitchen stove for heating a house.
  • Never run a gas powered generator in a garage, basement, or near any overhang on the home. Keep it at a distance.
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Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office