Health & Environment Police & Fire

City Issues Cold Weather Alert

***Cold Weather Alert***

Temperatures to reach teens, single digits with wind chill; City urges residents to stay warm, be cautious with portable heating devices

Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced today that the City of Boston is taking all steps to keep residents safe and warm as temperatures with wind chill are expected to dip into the teens and single digits for the remainder of this week.  Projecting the coldest weather in Boston so far this season, forecasts for today, Thursday, and Friday indicate rapidly falling temperatures and wind gusts that could exceed 20 miles per hour.  Given the cold snap, Mayor Menino urged residents to check on the well-being of their elderly or disabled neighbors, be mindful of homeless individuals that may need assistance, and practice caution when using portable heating devices such as space heaters.

The Elderly Affairs Commission will place calls to Boston’s senior citizens today to remind them to take precautions for the cold and contact the City with any concerns.

The City advises residents to follow these general heating safety tips for winter weather:

•        Never use your oven for heat.

•        Electric powered portable heaters should never be left on while sleeping and should be kept at least three feet away from combustible materials.

•        Do not overload electrical sockets.

•        Never leave candles unattended.

•        Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, toxic gas that can leak into your home from a faulty heating system, an idling car in your garage, or using your oven as a heat source.  CO detectors are required in homes by law, and they must be within ten feet of sleeping areas.

•        Working smoke detectors should be on each floor of your home, particularly near bedrooms.

•        To avoid frozen pipes, let warm water drip overnight in faucets, preferably from a faucet on an outdoor wall, and leave cabinet doors open to allow heat to reach un-insulated pipes.

The Boston Public Health Commission advises the following precautions to stay warm and avoid the dangerous effects of extremely cold weather:

•        Wear layers of comfortable clothing and warm boots or footwear that protect your feet.

•        Cover exposed skin – especially ears, hands, and other extremities – as skin is vulnerable to frost bite at such low temperatures.

•        Keep moving if working or playing outside.

•        Avoid getting wet, and avoid walking on frozen ponds or lakes as ice may not be fully frozen.

•        Drink warm, non-caffeinated fluids.

•        Keep Pets Indoors.

The Boston Public Schools Department advises parents to make sure that children are properly dressed for the cold temperatures.  Children who are not dressed properly, and whose skin is exposed to extremely cold air, can suffer frostbite within minutes. Children waiting for buses should be well covered with warm jackets, hats, gloves and scarves.

Rental units should be heated to 68 degrees during the day and 64 degrees at night.  Tenants should alert their landlord first to correct any issues, and if a landlord is unresponsive, residents are encouraged to contact the Mayor’s 24-hour Hotline by calling (617) 635-4500.  Hotline operators will alert the city’s Inspectional Services Department (ISD) to investigate situations and work with the landlord to get heat turned back on.  ISD will also monitor foreclosed properties to find and assist people who are using vacant buildings as shelter from the cold.

For heating assistance, Mayor Menino urges residents to contact ABCD (Action for Boston Community Development) at (617) 357-6012.

Mayor Menino encourages Boston residents and commuters who notice any homeless individuals that may be in danger from the extreme cold to please notify public safety officials by calling 9-1-1 to ensure the most rapid response to persons in need.  If anyone is aware of encampments where people are believed to be staying, please notify the Mayor’s 24-hour Hotline at (617) 635-4500.  The Emergency Shelter Commission is coordinating with the Boston Public Health Commission, Boston EMS, and the Boston Police Department Homelessness liaison to ensure that the Boston, MBTA and State Police are aware of locations where persons who may be vulnerable to the cold are believed to be sleeping.