NEW YORK STATE (January 30, 2015) –New York State Commissioner of Homeland Security and Emergency Services John P. Melville urges New Yorkers to take appropriate precautions as dangerously cold temperatures and oppressive wind chills are forecast for communities throughout Upstate New York, beginning later today and continuing through next week.
Wind Chill Warnings and Advisories are in effect in several areas across New York State. Temperatures will fall today, reaching single digits by late afternoon with subzero wind chills in certain communities. Temperatures will plummet overnight tonight, in some areas even reaching 10 to 20 degrees below zero. Wind chill readings may also reach -30F to -40F overnight with wind speeds of 10 to 20 mph. This pattern of bitterly cold temperatures could last though late morning or early afternoon on Saturday.
“With freezing temperatures and high winds impacting communities across the State, I urge all New Yorkers to take appropriate precautions in order to keep their families safe,” Melville said. “This frigid weather can easily lead to dangerous situations, and I urge everyone to remain safe throughout the weekend.
“Wind chill temperatures below 20 degrees and colder can lead to frostbite on exposed skin in less than 30 minutes and frostbite can set in in less than 15 minutes when wind chills reach 30 degree below zero and colder, “ Melville said. Your home, vehicles, the elderly and your pets will require extra attention.”
Melville offered the following safety tips:
· Sub-zero conditions over several days can cause many types of problems, from frozen water pipes to dangers caused by inadequate care when using alternative heating sources such as woodstoves, fireplaces and kerosene heaters. Follow proper safety precautions when using alternate heating sources.
· Pay attention to the news for official, up-to-date information on weather conditions. The best way to receive emergency information is by subscribing to NY-ALERT, the State’s free alert and notification system, at www.nyalert.gov. The NY-Alert Smartphone app is available athttp://www.ialertz.com.
· Dress appropriately by wearing loose, lightweight, warm clothing in several layers. Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent and hooded. Always wear a hat or cap on your head. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs from extreme cold. Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves because fingers maintain more warmth when they touch each other.
· Hypothermia is caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, especially in children and the elderly. Watch for the following symptoms: inability to concentrate, poor coordination, slurred speech, drowsiness, exhaustion, and/or uncontrollable shivering, following by a sudden lack of shivering. If a person’s body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, get emergency medical assistance immediately. Remove wet clothing, wrap the victim in warm blankets, and give warm, non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated liquids until help arrives.
· Frostbite can occur when working or playing outdoors during the winter. In the early stages of frostbite, there is no pain. Watch for danger signs: skin may feel numb and become flushed, and then turn white or grayish-yellow; frostbitten skin feels cold to the touch. If frostbite is suspected, move the victim to a warm area. Cover the affected area with something warm and dry. Never rub it! Get to a doctor or hospital as quickly as possible.
· Prevent pipes from freezing by turning on both hot and cold water faucets slightly, preferably in a basement sink – running water will not freeze as quickly. Open cabinet doors to allow more heat to get to non-insulated pipes under a sink or appliance near an outer wall. If you plan to leave your residence, drain and shut off the water system (except indoor sprinkler systems).
· If your pipes burst, make sure you and your family knows how to shut off the water. Stopping water flow minimizes 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.
· If you should lose power, turn off or unplug lights and appliances to prevent a circuit overload when service is restored. Leave one light on to indicate power has been restored. Make sure fuel space heaters are used with proper ventilation. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to help reduce food spoilage.
· Carbon monoxide poisoning is a silent, deadly killer claiming about 1,000 lives each year in the United States. Such common items as automotive exhaust, home heating systems and obstructed chimneys can produce the colorless, odorless gas. The gas can also be produced by poorly vented generators, kerosene heaters, gas grills and other items used for cooking and heating when used improperly during the winter months. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include sleepiness, headaches and dizziness. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, ventilate the area and get to a hospital immediately.
· When using a generator, never run it indoors. Deadly carbon monoxide gas from the generators exhaust can spread throughout enclosed spaces. Run generators outside, downwind of structures. Install a carbon monoxide detector. Keep children away from generators at all times.
· When using a kerosene heater, follow the manufacturers’ instructions. Use only the correct fuel for your unit. Refuel outdoors only when the unit is cool. When using the heater, use fire safeguards and ventilate properly.
· Stock up on emergency supplies, including flashlights, a portable, battery-operated radio, extra batteries, bottled water, non-perishable food, and a first aid kit.
· Make sure your automobile is properly winterized. Keep the gas tank at least half-full. Keep the following items in your car: blankets, extra clothing, flashlight, spare batteries, windshield scraper, shovel, towrope, and jumper cables.