Dear New Yorker:
There is a Winter Storm Watch in effect for New York City from Saturday afternoon through Sunday afternoon. Temperatures will be dangerously cold and conditions outside will be hazardous. I urge all of you to stay safe and warm this weekend, and to check on any neighbors who might be in need of help. I also encourage you to use the Office of the Public Advocate as a resource during this storm and always - please see my website for more if you need help.
WHAT TO EXPECT:
*WHAT: Heavy mixed precipitation possible. Total snow and sleet accumulations of 3 to 6 inches and ice accumulations of up to one tenth of an inch possible. Extremely low temperatures.
*WHEN: From Saturday afternoon through Sunday afternoon, with single-digit temperatures lasting into Monday.
*ADDITIONAL DETAILS: Travel could be very difficult at any point during the storm. Rapidly falling temperatures Sunday afternoon into the evening could cause any standing water to quickly freeze over. Strong wind gusts Sunday afternoon into the night could bring down tree limbs and power lines.
*PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS: A Winter Storm Watch means there is potential for significant snow, sleet or ice accumulations that may impact travel.
- Pedestrians should exercise caution and avoid slippery surfaces; some ice may not be visible. Wear sturdy boots that provide traction to reduce slipping. Use handrails when using stairs.
- Seniors should take extra care outdoors to avoid slips and falls.
- Have heightened awareness of cars, particularly when approaching or crossing intersections.
- Avoid driving when conditions include sleet, freezing rain, snow or dense fog.
- Drive slowly. Vehicles take longer to stop on snow and ice than on dry pavement.
- Four-wheel drive vehicles may make it easier to drive on snow-covered roads, but they stop less quickly than other vehicles.
- Use major streets or highways for travel whenever possible.
- Know your vehicle's braking system. Vehicles with anti-lock brakes require a different braking technique than vehicles without anti-lock brakes in snowy conditions.
- If you are driving and begin to skid, ease your foot off the gas and steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go. Straighten the wheel when the car moves in the desired direction. If you have an anti-lock braking system (ABS), apply steady pressure to the brake pedal. Never pump the brakes on an ABS equipped vehicle.
- Try to keep your vehicle's gas tank as full as possible. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
- Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces.
- Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.
- If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
- Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
- Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
- It is critical that households have working smoke alarms and that families practice their fire escape plan.
- Bring pets inside during winter weather.
A Code Blue Weather Emergency notice is issued when the temperature is forecast to drop to 32 degrees Fahrenheit or less between 4 p.m. and 8 a.m., including National Weather Service calculations for wind chill values. No one who is homeless and seeking shelter in New York City during a Code Blue will be denied. Should you see an individual who appears to be homeless and in need out in the cold, please call 311 and an outreach team will be dispatched to offer assistance.
During Code Blue Weather emergencies, experienced outreach teams work to connect homeless New Yorkers with the following resources:
- Shelters: During a Code Blue, shelter is available system-wide to accommodate anyone who is reasonably believed to be homeless and is brought to a shelter by outreach teams. Accommodations are also available for walk-ins.
- Drop-in centers: All drop-in centers are open 24-hours per day, including when Code Blue procedures are in effect, and will assist as many people as possible for the duration of the emergency. Drop-in staff and the dedicated outreach teams they work closely with each day can also make arrangements for homeless individuals at other citywide facilities.
- Safe havens and stabilization beds: Chronically homeless individuals may be transported directly to these low-threshold housing programs.
- Street homeless outreach: Teams will contact vulnerable individuals on their Code Blue Priority Lists a minimum of once every four (4) hours beginning at 8 p.m. during Code Blue Alerts and once every two (2) hours beginning at 8 p.m. for Enhanced Code Blue Alerts to encourage them to accept services, including transportation to a shelter placement. DSS coordinates borough-level Code Blue efforts directly with partner City agencies, including but not limited to NYPD, DSNY, and the Parks Department.
Be aware and stay safe. As always in these situations, I will be sharing new information as it becomes available via Twitter and Facebook.