Winter Weather Tips From Westchester County Health Department

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The Westchester County Department of Health is asking residents to be careful with temperatures expected to drop below freezing this week and snow forecast for the weekend. Photo Credit: File Photo

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- The Westchester County Department of Health is asking residents to be careful with temperatures below freezing for much of this week and snow forecast for Tuesday. 

Department of Health officials are reminding residents how to avoid hypothermia and frostbite, to use gas-powered tools and generators outdoors only and to take care when using alternate heating sources.

“If you have elderly or ailing neighbors who live alone, be sure to check on them every day when the weather is cold,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Sherlita Amler. “Low temperatures can be life-threatening, especially for seniors, infants and people who are at increased risk for hypothermia. Accidental hypothermia can occur even with temperatures of 60 to 65 degrees, so I urge residents who have power, especially those households with seniors or infants, to keep their thermostats set at no less than 68 degrees during the daytime.”

Officials said 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 the home, residents are urged to make temporary arrangements to stay elsewhere.

Residents who are eligible can receive financial help to heat their homes this winter. Those looking to find out more about eligibility are asked to call United Way's 2-1-1 or the Department of Social Services HEAP unit at 995-5619. Residents may also check for eligibility through the state government website. Applications can be downloaded from the county's website.

When working, exercising or playing outdoors in cold weather, DOH representatives ask residents to 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.

Representatives said if residents think that someone is suffering from hypothermia or frostbite, they should immediately call a medical provider.

Representatives said generators should only be operated outside, away from open windows to prevent carbon monoxide buildup that can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, which can lead to death. 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.

Those who lose power are asked to contact their utility compnay. 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, residents can contact the Westchester County Department of Health at (914) 813-5000.

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