Printer Friendly Format Email a Friend

PR- 013-04
January 15, 2004


With temperatures expected to remain well below freezing for the next several days, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM) offered the following advice for dealing with the cold weather and snow.

“As we are all aware, it is absolutely freezing outside,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The latest weather reports indicate it may be even colder tonight than it was last night.  With the wind chill, it could be as cold as 20 degrees below zero.  The cold weather isn’t just uncomfortable, it can be dangerous, especially to young children and the elderly.  We have a multi-agency effort prepared to help New Yorkers cope with the severe weather.  Sanitation is busy removing the snow that fell overnight, HPD has inspectors ready to help tenants who are having problems with their heat and our shelters are prepared to take in those who need a bed.  I urge anyone in need of assistance to call 311.”

Tips for Staying Warm
Exposure to cold can cause life-threatening health conditions. Avoid serious conditions such as frostbite and hypothermia, by keeping warm:

  • Wear a hat, hood or scarf, as most heat is lost through the head.
  • Wear layers, as they provide better insulation and warmth.
  • Keep fingertips, earlobes and noses covered if you go outside.
  • Keep clothing dry; if a layer becomes wet, remove it.

Safe Home Heating Tips
Improper use of portable heating equipment can lead to fire or dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Take precautions to ensure you are heating your home safely.

Fire Safety:
  • Use only portable heating equipment that is approved for indoor use.
  • Keep combustible materials, including furniture, drapes, and carpeting at least three feet away from the heat source. NEVER drape clothes over a space heater to dry them.
  • Always keep an eye on heating equipment. Never leave children alone in the room where a space heater is running. Turn it off when you are unable to closely monitor it.
  • Be careful not to overload electrical circuits.
  • Make sure you have a working smoke detector in every room. Check and change batteries often.
Carbon Monoxide Safety:
  • Make sure all fuel-burning items – such as furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters, and clothes dryers – are operating properly, ventilated and regularly inspected by a professional in order to prevent unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • If you have a working fireplace, keep chimneys clean and clear of debris.
  • Never turn on your oven to heat your kitchen, or operate gas or charcoal barbecue grills, kerosene- or oil-burning heater in an enclosed space.
  • Common signs of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache dizziness, chest pain, nausea.
  • If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, call 911, and get the victim to fresh air immediately, and open windows.
  • Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector.

What to Do If You Lose Heat
Every resident is entitled to heat and hot water.  Tenants without adequate heat or hot water should first speak with the building owner, manager, or superintendent.  If the problem is not corrected, tenants should call 311. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) will attempt to contact your building’s owner to get heat or hot water service restored.  
If service has not been restored, HPD will send an inspector to your building to verify the complaint and issue a violation. If your landlord does not live up to his or her legal obligation, HPD will call in emergency contractors to fix the boiler or do whatever is required to get your heat and hot water working again.   Every available inspector from our staff of 300 is in the field for the duration of the severe weather.

If you lose heat, take measures to trap existing warm air, and safely stay warm until heat returns:
  • Insulate your home as much as possible. Hang blankets over windows and doorways and stay in a well-insulated room while power is out.
  • Dress warmly. Wear hats, scarves, gloves and layered clothing.
  • If you have a working fireplace, use it for heat and light, but be sure to keep the damper open for ventilation.
  • If the cold persists and your heat is not restored, call family, neighbors or friends to see if you can stay with them.
  • Open your faucets to a steady drip so pipes do not freeze.
If your service line, pipes or water meters freeze:
  • Open a faucet near the frozen point to release vapor from melting ice.
  • Direct a hair dryer or heat lamp at the frozen section, or put a small space heater nearby.
  • NEVER thaw a frozen pipe or meter with an open flame; this could lead to fire or cause a steam explosion.
  • If your meter is damaged or your pipes burst, call 311.

City shelters are well prepared. Everyone wanting and needing a bed will get one – without exception.  Homeless outreach teams have been working across the City, around the clock to convince individuals to come inside for a warm meal and shelter. When teams find someone who is in trouble, they will bring them to an emergency room or a shelter, to ensure their safety.


Edward Skyler/Robert Lawson   (212) 788-2958


Jarrod Bernstein   (OEM)
(718) 422-4888

More Resources
Watch press conference in 56k or 300k