Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Suffolk County Police Commissioner Edward Webber are cautioning all residents of the extreme cold temperatures that are anticipated over the next several days. Please pay close attention to the local weather forecasts and take precautions against hazards associated with cold and bitter weather.
The National Weather Service uses two terms to warn of the potential hazards of wind chill temperatures. A “Wind Chill Advisory” is issued when wind chill temperatures are expected to be a significant inconvenience to life if exposure is prolonged. If caution is not exercised, this could lead to hazardous health consequences.
More significantly, a “Wind Chill Warning” is posted when wind chill temperatures are expected to be hazardous to life within just several minutes of exposure. If either an advisory or warning is issued, Suffolk residents venturing outdoors can expect an increased rate of body heat loss leading to hypothermia and the potential for frostbite–both of which can occur within a short period of time.
Suffolk officials offer the following information and guidance to residents, in light of the cold temperatures:
1. Be aware of the warning signs of hypothermia, which include shivering, confusion, memory loss, drowsiness, exhaustion and slurred speech. Infants who are suffering from hypothermia may appear to have very low energy and bright red, cold skin.
2. Frostbite is another cold weather concern and is especially dangerous because it often happens with little warning. First degree frostbite usually causes a whitening of the skin, followed by redness, tingling and loss of feeling. In cases of second degree frostbite, the skin turns purple and blisters begin to form. Third degree frostbite, which affects those subjected to severe exposure, can lead to gangrene and amputation.
3. Wear loose, lightweight, warm clothing in several layers. Trapped air between the layers acts as an insulator. Layers can be removed to avoid perspiration and subsequent chill. Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent and hooded. Always wear a hat or cap; as much as one-half of your body heat can be lost through an uncovered head.
4. When outdoors, cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs from extreme cold.
5. When shoveling snow, dress warmly and work slowly. Take frequent rests to avoid overexertion. If you feel chest pain – STOP and seek medical help immediately.
6. If the heat goes off in your home, you can keep warm by closing off the rooms you don’t need. Dress in layers of lightweight clothes, wear a cap, and eat well-balanced meals.
7. Use only safe and approved alternate heat sources such as a fireplace, a small, well-vented wood stove, a coal stove or portable space heaters, and be aware of the potential for carbon monoxide buildup. Ensure that any heating devices are placed on flat, level surfaces, and keep the surrounding area clear.
8. Make certain that indoor early warning devices–such as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors–are operating properly and have fresh batteries.
In times of extreme cold, we ask all residents to be mindful of those that may not have appropriate shelter. Suffolk County has many avenues in which to help. In addition to providing our residents with this important information, we also would like to advise our communities of the various Temporary Housing Assistance services and emergency shelters that are available to those who are in need.
• Nobody should be left out in the cold in these conditions.
• If you are without shelter, please contact our Temporary Housing Assistance Unit at 631-854-9517.
• After 4:30 on weekdays, weekends and on holidays, we advise you to call the County’s Emergency Services Unit at 631-854-9100.
• Sheltering assistance is also available at our service centers located in Deer Park, Coram, Hauppauge and Riverhead. Specific addresses and information on these centers can be found on our website, www.suffolkcountyny.gov