Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged New Yorkers to take precautions against dangerously cold weather that will be affecting the entire state until January 2. Southern and western areas in the North Country will be experiencing dangerously cold wind chills through at least Thursday night where wind chill temperatures could reach -15 to -25 below zero with some areas of the southern Adirondacks reaching as low as -40 below zero. Temperatures in Long Island and New York City are forecast to be 15 to 20 degrees below normal with high temperatures remaining below the upper teens to mid-20s and overnight lows reaching the single digits through Friday, and from Sunday through Tuesday. Winter Weather Advisories are also posted the Finger Lakes Region with Lake Effect Snow Warnings in place for the typical lake effect band areas of Western New York and the North Country.
"Bitterly cold winter temperatures have settled in across the state and New Yorkers need to make sure they are prepared for this dangerously cold weather," said Governor Cuomo. "I encourage New Yorkers to stay informed and safe during this inclement weather - we will continue to monitor conditions and stand ready to assist any communities in need."
Alternate sources of home heating are a major cause of winter residential fires. Make sure all levels of your home have a working smoke alarm and check it on a monthly basis.
Wood-burning stoves, fireplaces and heaters can add a cozy glow, but make sure you are using them safely.
- Always keep a screen around an open flame.
- Never use gasoline to start your fireplace.
- Never burn charcoal indoors.
- Do not close the damper when ashes are hot.
- When using alternative heat sources such as a fireplace, woodstove, etc. always make sure you have proper ventilation. Keep curtains, towels and potholders away from hot surfaces.
- Have your chimney checked before the season for creosote buildup -- and then clean it.
- Establish a well-planned escape route with the entire family.
If you use kerosene heaters to supplement your regular heating fuel, or as an emergency source of heat, follow these safety tips:
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions.
- Use only the correct fuel for your unit.
- Refuel outdoors ONLY and only when the unit is cool.
- Keep the heater at least three feet away from furniture and other flammable objects.
- When using the heater, use fire safeguards and ventilate properly.
Staying Warm Indoors
If your heat goes out during the cold weather, you can keep warm by closing off rooms you do not need. Dress in layers of lightweight clothing and wear a cap.
Protecting Water Pipes
To prevent the mess and aggravation of frozen water pipes, protect your home, apartment or business by following the simple steps below.
Before Cold Weather
- Locate and insulate pipes most susceptible to freezing, typically those near outer walls, in crawl spaces or in the attic.
- Wrap pipes with heat tape (UL approved).
- Seal any leaks that allow cold air inside where pipes are located.
- Disconnect garden hoses and shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. This reduces the chance of freezing in the short span of pipe just inside the house.
When It's Cold
- Let hot and cold water trickle at night from a faucet on an outside wall.
- Open cabinet doors to allow more heat to get to un-insulated pipes under a sink or appliance near an outer wall.
- Make sure heat is left on and set no lower than 55 degrees.
- If you plan to be away: (1) Have someone check your house daily to make sure the heat is still on to prevent freezing, or (2) drain and shut off the water system (except indoor sprinkler systems).
If Pipes Freeze
- Make sure you and your family knows how to shut off the water, in case pipes burst. Stopping the water flow minimize the damage to your home. Call a plumber and contact your insurance agent.
- Never try to thaw a pipe with an open flame or torch.
- Always be careful of the potential for electric shock in and around standing water.
To avoid frostbite, stay inside during severe cold. If you must go out, try to cover every part of your body: ears, nose, toes and fingers, etc. Mittens are better than gloves. Keep your skin dry. Stay out of the wind when possible. Drink plenty of fluids since hydration increases the blood's volume, which helps prevent frostbite. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes. Caffeine constricts blood vessels, preventing warming of your extremities. Alcohol reduces shivering, which helps keep you warm. Cigarette use shuts off the blood flow to your hands.
Frostbite First Aid
Until you can get indoors:
- Don't rub or massage cold body parts.
- Drink warm liquids.
- Put on extra layers of clothes, blankets, etc.
- Remove rings, watches, and anything tight.
- Don't walk on a frostbitten foot. You could cause more damage.
- Get in a warm, NOT hot, bath and wrap your face and ears in a moist, warm, NOT hot, towel.
- Don't get near a hot stove or heater or use a heating pad, hot water bottle, or a hair dryer. You may burn yourself before feeling returns.
- Frostbitten skin will become red and swollen and feel like it's on fire. You may develop blisters. Don't break the blisters. It could cause scarring.
- If your skin turns blue or gray, is very swollen, blistered or feels hard and numb even under the surface, go to a hospital immediately.