In light of the numerous snow storms that passed through Westchester and the surrounding regions last year, residents should take precautions now to prepare for hazardous weather that could include potential power outages, being snowed in at home and other inconveniences caused by vast amounts of snow and ice.
The Department of Emergency Services offers these tips when heavy snow falls:
- Shovel snow in moderation, particularly if you have any medical condition or you do not exercise regularly.
- It is the responsibility of the property owner to clear the sidewalk in front of that property.
- Do not shovel snow from driveways and sidewalks into the street.
- Most fire hydrants are covered by snow. If you can, please shovel out the snow around hydrants near your property.
- Before driving, clear snow from vehicle windows and roofs.
- Check on elderly and disabled relatives, neighbors and friends.
- Do not walk behind plow vehicles; it is difficult for plow operators to see you.
- Be on the look out for falling ice and snow from roofs and gutters.
- A lot of heavy snow and ice has accumulated on roofs. Do not stand under structures that are not well-supported.
- If you have no heat or hot water in rental apartments, call your local building department or, during after hours, the local police.
- Remember to be prepared before your power goes out; it will be too later after it goes out.
Do I call 911 or 211?
Please do not call 911 for nonemergencies, such as information or to complain about snow removal issues. You may call the 2-1-1 helpline for nonemergencies.
Cold Weather Tips
When temperatures start dropping below freezing and the wind chill factor adds to the frigid cold, here are tips to staying warm inside and outside and what to do if someone is negatively affected by the cold.
Inside your home:
- Maintain a room temperature of at least 68 degrees during the day and evening and 63 degrees overnight.
- It is dangerous to use an oven as a heating device to warm your home. All space heaters are a fire risk if used improperly.
- Be aware of the elderly and disabled living alone. Offer assistance.
- Wear layers of warm dry clothing. Dressing in several layers of loose-fitting clothing will create pockets of insulating warm air. Wet clothing negates the insulating effect so stay dry.
- Wear wool or fleece fabrics, not cotton as it dries slowly; warm socks with a thermal sock liner; comfortable, closed shoes; a scarf, hat and earmuffs to prevent loss of body heat; a water repellent, hooded outer garment to add extra protection; and mittens instead of gloves to keep hands warm.
- Cover exposed skin surfaces as protection from frostbite.
- Walk around or move in place to increase circulation and generate additional body heat.
- Seek shelter indoors periodically to warm up.
Cold Weather Dangers and Warning Signs:
- Be aware of hypothermia, a potentially fatal condition brought on when the body temperature drops to less than 95 degrees Farenheit. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, stiff muscles, puffy face, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. If any of these signs are recognized, seek medical attention immediately or call 911.
- Frostbite is damage to body tissue caused by exposure to extreme cold. Warning signs include a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes or the tip of the nose. To treat frostbite, warm the affected areas gradually by wrapping or placing next to warm skin. Do not rub the affected areas.
- Drink warm, non-alcoholic beverages like tea, coffee, hot chocolate and soup. Drinking alcohol will cause a loss of body heat by dilating blood vessels.
- Maintain good nutrition and get plenty of rest.
- Prescription drugs may increase vulnerability to cold. Check with your doctor or pharmacist.
From November - March, Westchester County maintains warming centers for single individuals seeking shelter from the cold. Families seeking shelter after hours or during weekends should contact DSS Emergency Services at (914) 995-2099.