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For Immediate Release
November 10, 2010


10 Tips on How to Prevent Accidents and
Save Energy This Winter

Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri today reminds all New Yorkers to take extra precautions and make basic repairs to their homes in order to stay safe throughout the winter season. New Yorkers can save time and energy by undertaking simple home improvements, such as adding insulation to doors and windows and checking heating equipment before cold weather approaches. With more residents spending time indoors, it is important that proper fire safety precautions are in place, including working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

“Preparing your home for winter will better protect you and your family during the season,” said Commissioner LiMandri. “Property owners should take some simple precautions in order to prevent accidents and weather-related damage to their buildings and homes. By following these tips, New Yorkers can lower heating bills and ensure a safe and comfortable winter.”

The Department of Buildings suggests the following 10 tips for property owners and tenants to “winterize” their homes:

  1. Reduce drafts. Loose fitting windows and doors can be major sources of heat loss in a building. Properly seal them with weatherproofing materials. Adding weatherstripping around the edges of doors and windows will help keep heat in.

  2. Check attic insulation. The majority of heat that escapes from a home is through the roof. Proper insulation of at least six inches will help prevent heat loss.

  3. Maintain heating equipment. Properly maintain heating equipment to assure maximum efficiency and reduce the risk of malfunction. Have equipment cleaned and serviced yearly by a qualified individual to ensure safe use.

  4. Clean your chimney. Have your chimney cleaned and checked once a year, preferably before heating season starts. If you have not had your chimney inspected within the last three years, you should have it checked to ensure that there are no blockages.

  5. Protect water meters and pipes from freezing. Pipes and meters can freeze when in unheated areas. Ensure there is proper insulation in the surrounding areas. Turn off water to outside faucets, remove hoses and drain the pipes.

  6. Employ proper precautions when thawing pipes and meters. If pipes and meters freeze, thaw them carefully. Do not use a flame, which could ignite a fire or cause a steam explosion. Open a faucet near the frozen area to release vapors from melting ice.

  7. Prevent snow and water accumulation. Snow and rain that collect on roofs can cause a leak or compromise a building’s structural integrity if the accumulated weight becomes too great. Remove snow from roofs and drains regularly. Clean gutters and roof drains to prevent clogs.

  8. Check contractor qualifications. Make sure that individuals inspecting a boiler or chimney have the proper qualification from the Department of Buildings and Department of Consumer Affairs. Make sure your heating oil company has had its delivery truck inspected by the Department of Consumer Affairs to check for faulty meters.

  9. Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working. Change the batteries of these devices twice a year – when you change your clocks for Daylight Saving Time.

  10. Avoid fire hazards. Keep space heaters away from draperies, linens and all flammable materials. Do not let candles burn low, and do not place them near children.

The Department has created several easy-to-follow guides and brochures with tips on how to "winterize" homes so accidents can be prevented and energy can be conserved. These guides and brochures are available on the Department's website at

Contact:     Tony Sclafani/Carly Sullivan (212) 566-3473
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