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Community News

Posted on: January 28, 2022

Winter storm precautions from Westchester County

White Plains, NY) – With a Nor’easter heading into Westchester tonight, County Executive George Latimer is urging residents to take precautions now so they can remain inside during the storm.

The storm is projected to bring significant snowfall to the County, making travel very difficult and dangerous. Latimer said residents should obtain or replenish food and other supplies before the arrival of the severe weather to avoid having to be out once the storm arrives.

The Westchester County Police will have extra Patrol and Emergency Service Unit officers working to assist motorists and close sections of parkways if conditions require it. Public Safety Commissioner Thomas A. Gleason asked residents to avoid unnecessary travel, which will make it easier for officers to respond to accidents and emergencies and for snow plows to do their work.

 The Westchester County Department of Health reminds residents how to avoid hypothermia and frostbite, and to use gas-powered tools and generators outdoors only and to take care when using alternate heating sources.

Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler, MD, said:  “Dress warmly in several layers of loose-fitting clothing to trap body heat when you venture out to shovel and keep a spare blanket in your car in case of breakdowns. Wear a hat, gloves and a scarf. Instead of waiting until the snow stops, shovel a few times to avoid straining yourself. Clear the snow off the roof of your car to avoid creating a hazard for others and don’t shovel snow into the street. If you are able to, clear a path for your elderly neighbors and check on them. Low temperatures can be life-threatening, especially for seniors, infants and people who are at increased risk for hypothermia.”

Seniors and infants less than one year of age should never sleep in a cold room and should be dressed in warm clothing to prevent the loss of body heat. If a safe temperature cannot be maintained inside your home, make temporary arrangements to stay elsewhere.

Warning signs of hypothermia in adults include stumbling, mumbling, fumbling and grumbling, shivering, slurred speech and confusion. Infants with hypothermia may appear sluggish, with very low energy and bright red, cold skin.  

Frostbite is another cold weather concern and is especially dangerous because it often happens with little warning. Numbness can occur so quickly that the individual, unaware of being frostbitten, may remain outside, increasing the chance of permanent damage. Older people, and those with diabetes, are especially vulnerable to frostbite because of impaired circulation.

When working, exercising or playing outdoors in cold weather, follow these tips to prevent frostbite and hypothermia:

  • Start with synthetic or silk thermal underwear to wick moisture away.
  • Add fleece or wool sweaters or sweatshirts to trap heat and keep cold out.
  • Top it off with a waterproof or water-repellent jacket and pants.
  • Add gloves, a hat and sturdy shoes or boots with good traction.
  • Go indoors when you begin to feel cold. 

If you think that someone is suffering from hypothermia or frostbite, call a medical provider immediately.

Residents who lose power and use a portable generator to fuel their homes must be aware that using a generator indoors can kill you in minutes! Never use a generator inside your house or in partly enclosed areas such as garages, basements, porches, crawlspaces, sheds, carports or breezeways, even if your windows are open. Generators should only be operated outside, away from open windows. Carbon monoxide in the generator's fumes can build up and cause carbon monoxide poisoning, which can lead to death. 

For the same reason, never start your snow blower or chain saw inside your garage, because the carbon monoxide these power tools give off can quickly overcome you. And camp stoves and portable barbecues should only be used outdoors.

The Health Department also reminds residents to take the following precautions when using alternate heating sources in their homes:

  • Vent fireplaces, wood stoves and other combustion heaters to the outside.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for space heaters and wood burning stoves.
  • Use only the type of fuel your heater is designed to use - don’t substitute. 
  • Keep space heaters on the floor, at least three feet away from water, furniture, rugs, bedding and curtains.
  • Keep children and pets away from space heaters, fireplaces and wood stoves to avoid accidental burns.
  • Wear non-flammable gloves and clothing when adding fuel to a fireplace or space heater.
  • Never add fuel to a space heater when it is hot 
  • If you have a fire extinguisher, keep it nearby. 
  • Never leave candles burning if you leave the room. 

If you lose power, call your utility company. Con Edison can be reached at 1-800-75-CONED; NYS Electric and Gas can be reached at 1-800-572-1131 for electrical outages and 1-800- 572-1121 for gas.

For more information on cold weather safety, contact the Westchester County Department of Health at (914) 813-5000 or visit our website at www.westchestergov.com/health. You can also follow us on Twitter @wchealthdept or like us on Facebook at Facebook.com/wchealthdept.

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