For Immediate Release
January 10, 2022
NEW YORK STATE DIVISION OF HOMELAND SECURITY AND EMERGENCY SERVICES URGES NEW YORKERS TO PREPARE FOR EXTREME COLD WEATHER
The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services’ Acting Commissioner Jackie Bray today urged all New Yorkers to prepare for extreme cold weather as temperatures across the state are forecast to drop well below freezing over the coming days. For several regions across the state, especially those adjacent to Lakes Erie and Ontario, wind chills as low as -20 to -30 degrees are expected to begin later today and continue into Tuesday afternoon. This type of weather brings an increased risk of hypothermia and frostbite, and increases the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning from alternative heating sources such as portable space heaters and fuel-burning appliances.
Several areas in Central New York and the North Country are expected to receive up to two feet of lake effect snow and winds gusting up to 40 mph at times through Tuesday. Travel conditions during heavy snow and high winds will be difficult at times, and roads may be slippery due to the mixture of blowing snow and below freezing temperatures.
“Weather conditions across the state will bring extreme cold until Wednesday and many of the same areas will see dangerous travel conditions until tomorrow because of heavy snow, high winds and the dangerously cold temperatures,” said Acting Commissioner Jackie Bray. “I’m cautioning New Yorkers that extreme cold temperatures can cause frostbite to exposed skin in minutes, so limit your time outdoors and know where to take shelter if needed. If you are able, check in on neighbors and loved ones and make sure they are safe.”
For the most current weather warnings, watches and advisories in your area, please visit the National Weather Service Public Alerts website.
Protecting Water Pipes
Prevent the mess and aggravation of frozen water pipes, protect your home, apartment, or business by following these steps:
Be "Fire Safe"
Heating equipment is among the leading causes of home fires nationally and in New York State. Take a few simple steps to significantly reduce the possibility of experiencing a heating related fire. No matter how careful you are with home heating, you and your family should be prepared in case fire strikes:
Maintain and Inspect Home Heating Appliances
Proper maintenance and an annual inspection of heat pumps, furnaces, space heaters, wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, chimneys and chimney connections by qualified specialists can prevent fires and save lives. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation, venting, fueling, maintenance and repair. Review the owner's manual to make sure you remember the operating and safety features.
Space Heaters – Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from furniture, window treatments, bedding, clothing, rugs, and other combustibles. Avoid the use of extension cords with electric heaters. Always turn off space heaters before leaving the room or going to bed.
Fuel Burning Appliances – Inspect the shut off mechanism and wick for proper operation. Fill the tank with fresh fuel. Let the heater cool down before refueling. Adding fuel to a hot heater can start a dangerous fire.
Wood Burning Appliances and Fireplaces – Do not burn trash in the wood stove or fireplace. Burn only well-seasoned hardwoods. Be sure the fire you build fits your fireplace or stove, don't overload it. Be sure wood stoves are installed at least 36 inches away from the wall. Keep combustible materials well away from the fireplace, stove and chimney. Keep the area around them clean. Always use a fireplace screen to prevent sparks from leaving the fireplace and starting a fire. Never leave a fire unattended.
Chimneys – Creosote accumulation is the leading cause of chimney fires. A chimney that is dirty, blocked or is in disrepair can inhibit proper venting of smoke up the flue and can also cause a chimney fire. Nearly all residential fires originating in the chimney are preventable. An annual chimney inspection by a qualified chimney sweep can prevent fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.
Ashes – Keep wood stoves and fireplaces free of excess ash buildup. Excessive ash buildup prevents good circulation of air needed for combustion. When removing ashes, use a metal container with a tight-fitting cover. Always place ashes in an outside location away from structures. Ashes that seem cool may contain a smoldering charcoal that can start a fire.
Other Heating Safety Tips
Transportation crashes are the leading cause of death and injury during winter storms.
Before getting behind the wheel, make sure that your vehicle is clear of ice and snow; good vision is key to good driving. Plan your stops and keep more distance between cars. Be extra cautious while behind the wheel and remember that snowdrifts can hide smaller children. Always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.
It is important for motorists on all roads to note that snowplows travel at speeds up to 35 mph, which in many cases is lower than the posted speed limit, to ensure that salt being dispersed stays in the driving lanes and does not scatter off the roadways. Oftentimes on interstate highways, snowplows will operate side by side, as this is the most efficient and safe way to clear several lanes at one time.
Motorists and pedestrians should also keep in mind that snowplow drivers have limited lines of sight, and the size and weight of snowplows can make it very difficult to maneuver and stop quickly. Snow blowing from behind the plow can severely reduce visibility or cause whiteout conditions. Motorists should not attempt to pass snowplows or follow too closely. The safest place for motorists to drive is well behind the snowplows where the roadway is clear and salted.
Some of the most important tips for safe driving include:
About the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services provides leadership, coordination and support for efforts to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from terrorism, natural disasters, threats, fires and other emergencies. For more information, visit the Facebook page, follow @NYSDHSES on Twitter, or visit dhses.ny.gov.