For more information about cold weather safety and how you can prepare for emergencies call 311 or visit www.nyc.gov/emergencymanagement

NYC EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT OFFERS WINTER PREPARATION TIPS

In advance of the winter weather season, New York City Emergency Management reminds New Yorkers to protect themselves and help others who may be at risk during cold weather events. People most at risk for cold-related illness include:

  • Homeless individuals not in shelters
  • People who drink heavily or use drugs and become incapacitated outdoors
  • People in homes without heat AND
    • Are 65 years or older
    • Use drugs or drink heavily o Have chronic medical conditions such as heart or respiratory disease o Have serious mental illness or developmental disabilities
    • Are socially isolated, have limited mobility, or are unable to leave the house

New Yorkers should remember to be prepared:

  • Make sure your household disaster plan is ready and all members of your household are familiar with how to contact one another in an emergency.
  • Winterize your Go Bag by adding a blanket, warm socks and gloves.
  • Your emergency supply kit should be fully-stocked to allow you to sustain yourself for up to three days without power, or in the event you are unable to travel far from home. You may wish to include additional items such as extra blankets, additional warm clothing, and a battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio to monitor weather conditions during a storm.
  • Install and check batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Make sure you have sufficient heating fuel; you may have difficulty obtaining fuel in the immediate aftermath of a bad storm.
  • Service snow removal equipment, and have rock salt on hand to melt ice on walkways. Kitty litter can be used to generate temporary traction.
  • Sign up for Notify NYC at www.NYC.gov/notifynyc or call 311 to receive emails, text messages or phone calls with emergency information.

Know what to do if you lose heat or hot water at home

Between October 1 and May 31 landlords must maintain an indoor temperature of at least 68° between 6 AM and 10 PM when the outdoor temperature falls below 55°. Between 10 PM and 6 AM, an indoor temperature must be at least 55° when the outside temperature falls below 40°. Hot water is required to be maintained at 120 degrees.

If you do not have heat or hot water in your home:

  • Report the problem to the building owner, manager, or superintendent immediately; call 311 if the problem is not fixed. Call 311 if you are a homeowner and are having difficulty paying for heat or repairing heating equipment. The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) has opened application for monetary aid starting on November 7. HEAP is funded by the federal government and is overseen by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. Households may also be eligible for an emergency benefit if they are in danger of running out of heating fuel or having their utility service shut off. Applications for emergency benefits will be accepted beginning Tuesday, January 3, 2017. Households facing an energy emergency should call their local department of social services for assistance. For more information click here
  • Stay with family or friends until heating is restored, if possible
  • Insulate your home as much as possible such as by hanging blankets over windows and doorways
  • Wear hats, scarves, gloves, and layered clothing
  • Put a hat on your baby and cover their hands and feet if they are cold to the touch
  • Open your faucets to a steady drip so pipes do not freeze
  • Heat your home safely - do not use your oven or fuel-burning space heaters to heat your home as these can release carbon monoxide, a deadly gas that you cannot see or smell

Heat your home safely

Improper use of portable heating equipment can lead to fire or dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. During winter, home-heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are general and include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, sleepiness, trouble breathing, and loss of consciousness. Severe poisonings may result in permanent injury or death. Make sure your home has a working smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector on every floor. Test them at least once a month and change the batteries twice a year when clocks are changed (“change your clock, change your battery”). Install CO detectors within 15 feet of each bedroom, so that it can be heard if you are sleeping.

Fire safety tips:

  • Use space heaters for a limited time each day; turn it off when you leave the room or go to sleep
  • Never leave children alone in the room where a space heater is in use
  • Keep combustible materials, including furniture, drapes, and carpeting at least three feet away from heaters; never drape clothes over a space heater to dry them
  • Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet
  • Use equipment that has the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) mark
    • Do not use an extension cord or power strip
    • Do not plug anything else into the same outlet when the space heater is in use
    • Do not use space heaters with frayed or damaged cords
  • Use fireplaces only if they are well-maintained and have screens; make sure damper is open for ventilation
  • Visit https://www1.nyc.gov/site/fdny/education/fire-and-life-safety/fire-safety-downloads.page for more information on fire safety

Carbon monoxide safety tips:

  • Make sure all fuel-burning devices such as furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters, and clothes dryers are properly vented to the outdoors and operating properly; contact a professional to inspect if you are not sure or repairs are needed
  • Use generators outdoors and away from doors, windows and vents; always follow the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Do not use a gas stove, or a charcoal or gas grill to heat your home
  • Do not use a kerosene or propane space heater which are illegal in New York City
  • Keep chimneys clean and clear of debris
  • NEVER run your vehicle inside a garage as carbon monoxide levels can increase inside your car or garage
  • For more information on carbon monoxide safety, visit https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/indoors/air/carbon_monoxide_need_to_know.htm

For more information about cold weather safety and how you can prepare for emergencies call 311 or visit www.nyc.gov/emergencymanagement.

Household Disaster Plan

Get Prepared

Make a disaster plan with your household members to prepare for what to do, how to find each other, and how to communicate in an emergency. Make a plan that best suits your needs and the needs of your household.

  • Decide where your household will reunite after a disaster. Identify two places to meet: one right outside your home and another outside your neighborhood, such as a library, community center, or place of worship.
  • Identify all possible exit routes from your home and neighborhood.
  • Designate an out-of-state friend or relative that household members can call if separated during a disaster. If New York City phone circuits are busy, long-distance calls may be easier to make. This out-of-state contact can help you and your family communicate. Keep in mind that cell phones may not function during and immediately following a disaster due to high volume of activity; however, text messages can often get through, even if you can't make calls on your cell phone. What's more, if cell phones aren't functional, using a landline or a payphone (to call your out-of-state contact) is a good alternative.
  • Plan for everybody's needs, especially seniors, people with disabilities, children, non-English speakers, and pets.
  • Ensure that household members have a copy of your household disaster plan and emergency contact information to keep in their wallets and backpacks.
  • Practice your plan with all household members.

When developing your family's disaster plan, you should assemble and make copies of vital contact information for each family member. Use Ready New York's Emergency Reference Card to capture this information.

When to Go: Evacuations

Evacuation should be addressed as part of everyone's planning efforts. City officials will tell you when to evacuate through the media and direct warnings. Evacuation is used as a last resort when a serious threat to public safety exists. If you must evacuate, your first plan should always be to stay with friends or family. In a planned evacuation, such as for a coastal storm, the City will advise residents of which areas are impacted and provide guidance on how the evacuation will proceed. In the case of coastal storms, designated routes have been identified throughout the city to effectively get people from low-lying hazard areas safely to higher ground. To find out whether you live or work in a hurricane evacuation zone, use the Hurricane Evacuation Zone Finder, NYC Emergency Management's Web-based evacuation mapping tool.

In an unplanned evacuation, such as for a hazardous material spill, officials will advise affected residents to leave the immediate area until the danger can be removed. Always have your Go Bag prepared and easily accessible in case of any evacuation. You may not have time to assemble your belongings, and you may not be allowed back until the danger has passed.

Evacuate immediately when you:

  • Are directed to do so by an emergency official.
  • Are in immediate danger.

Be Prepared to Evacuate

  • Determine whether you live in a hurricane evacuation zone by accessing the Hurricane Evacuation Zone Finder, or contact 311 (212-639-9675 for Video Relay Service, or TTY: 212-504-4115).
  • Know evacuation plans for all the places you and your household members spend time. Often buildings have floor marshals who are responsible for evacuation plans.
  • Make alternate transportation plans; the means of transportation you usually use may not be available.
  • Practice plans through regular drills. People who practice escape drills can evacuation with greater ease than those who are unfamiliar with the procedures.
  • If you have pets, consider what you would do if you cannot return home to them. Pet owners should read Ready New York for Pets for more information.

What to Do When You Evacuate

  • If there is time, secure your home: close and lock windows and doors, and unplug appliances before you leave. Authorities will instruct you if it is necessary to turn off utilities.
  • Wear sturdy shoes and comfortable, protective clothing, such as long pants and long-sleeved shirts.
  • Bring your Go Bag with you.
  • Do NOT use an elevator during a fire or other emergency unless directed to do so by emergency personnel. If power goes out or is shut off, you may become trapped.
  • Remember, evacuation routes change based on the emergency so stay tuned to the local news, access NYC.gov, or contact 311 (212-639-9675 for Video Relay Service, or TTY: 212-504-4115) for the latest information.
  • Go to the nearest safe place or shelter as soon as instructed.

Disaster S heltering

If you are directed to evacuate, make arrangements to stay with friends or family outside the affected area whenever possible. For evacuees who have no alternative shelter, the City will open shelters throughout the five boroughs. Disaster shelters may be set up in school, municipal buildings, and places of worship. They provide basic food and water. If possible, bring clothing, bedding, bathing and sanitary supplies, medications, and your Go Bag to shelters.

  • See Tips for Pet Owners if you have pets.
  • Alcoholic beverages, firearms, and illegal substances are NOT allowed in disaster shelters.
  • Shelter sites change based on the emergency so stay tuned to the local news, access NYC.gov, or contact 311 (212-639-9675 for Video Relay Service, or TTY: 212-504-4115) for the latest information.

When to Stay: Shelter in Place

During some emergencies, you may be asked to stay where you are, or "shelter in place." This could be as simple as remaining at home while officials clear hazards from a nearby area, or it could require more active measures during emergencies involving contaminated air.
Identify a room with few doors or windows to shelter in place. Ideally the room should allow at least 10 square feet per person.
When officials advise you to shelter in place, act quickly and follow instructions. Your main objective should be to get to a safe indoor location. You will likely be in your "safe room" for no more than a few hours. Once inside:

  • Lock doors, close windows, air vents and fireplace dampers.
  • Turn off fans, air conditioning and forced air heating systems.
  • Seal all windows, doors and air vents with plastic sheeting and duct tape.
  • Make sure you have emergency supplies.
  • Tune in to local radio or TV stations to receive updates.
  • If your children are at school, do not pick them up until the danger has passed and shelter-in-place orders have been lifted. School officials have shelter-in-place procedures. You will only endanger yourself by leaving a safe area during the emergency.

Go Bag

Everyone in your household should have a Go Bag — a collection of things you would want if you have to leave in a hurry. Your Go Bag should be sturdy and easy to carry, like a backpack or a small suitcase on wheels. You'll need to customize your Go Bag for your personal needs, but some of the important things you need in your Go Bag include:

  • Copies of your important documents in a waterproof and portable container (insurance cards, birth certificates, deeds, photo IDs, proof of address, etc.)
  • Extra set of car and house keys
  • Copies of credit/ATM cards
  • Cash (in small bills)
  • Bottled water and nonperishable food, such as energy or granola bars
  • Flashlight (Note: Traditional flashlight bulbs have limited lifespans. Light Emitting Diode (LED) flashlights, however, are more durable and last up to 10 times longer than traditional bulbs.)
  • Battery-operated AM/FM radio
  • Extra batteries/chargers
  • A list of the medications each member of your household takes, why they take them, and their dosages. If you store extra medication in your Go Bag, be sure to refill it before it expires. Get prescription preparedness tips from the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene
  • First-aid kit
  • Toiletries
  • Notepad and pen
  • Contact and meeting place information for your household, and a small regional map
  • Lightweight raingear and Mylar blanket

If you have children, pack child care supplies as well as games and small toys.

If you're older or have any special medical needs, consider including these items:

  • Instructions and extra batteries for any devices you use
  • Aerosol tire repair kits and/or tire inflator to repair flat wheelchair or scooter tires
  • Back-up medical equipment
  • Items to comfort you in a stressful situation

If you have a pet, you need to pack a Go Bag for them:

  • A current color photograph of you and your pet together (in case you are separated)
  • Copies of medical records that indicate dates of vaccinations and a list of medications your pet takes and why he or she takes them
  • Proof of identification and ownership, including copies of registration information, adoption papers, proof of purchase, and microchip information
  • Physical description of your pet, including species, breed, age, sex, color, distinguishing traits, and any other vital information about characteristics and behavior
  • Animal first aid kit, including flea and tick treatment and other items recommended by your veterinarian
  • Food and water for at least three days
  • Food and water dishes
  • Collapsible cage or carrier
  • Muzzle* and sturdy leash (*Note: Nylon muzzles should only be used temporarily as they can restrict a dog’s ability to pant)
  • Cotton sheet to place over the carrier to help keep your pet calm
  • Comforting toys or treats
  • Litter, litter pan, and litter scoop
  • Plastic bags for clean-up

Emergency Supply Kit

Keep enough supplies in your home to survive on your own, or shelter in place, for up to seven days. If possible, keep these materials in an easily accessible, separate container or special cupboard. You should indicate to your household members that these supplies are for emergencies only. Check expiration dates of food and update your kits when you change your clock during daylight saving times.

  • One gallon of drinking water per person per day
  • Nonperishable, ready-to-eat canned foods and manual can opener
  • First-aid kit
  • Flashlight (Note: Traditional flashlight bulbs have limited lifespans. Light Emitting Diode (LED) flashlights, however, are more durable and last up to 10 times longer than traditional bulbs.)
  • Battery-operated AM/FM radio and extra batteries (you can also buy wind-up radios that do not require batteries)
  • Whistle
  • Iodine tablets or one quart of unscented bleach (for disinfecting water ONLY if directed to do so by health officials) and eyedropper (for adding bleach to water)
  • Personal hygiene items: soap, feminine hygiene products, toothbrush and toothpaste, etc.
  • Phone that does not rely on electricity
  • Child care supplies or other special care items

Regardless of the season, it's a good idea to prepare for an in-car emergency. Assemble an emergency supply kit for your vehicle, and consider adding the following items for winter conditions:

  • Blankets, sleeping bags, extra newspapers for insulation
  • Plastic bags (for sanitation)
  • Extra mittens, socks, scarves and hat, raingear and extra clothes
  • Sack of sand or kitty litter for gaining traction under wheels, small shovel
  • Set of tire chains or traction mats
  • Working jack and lug wrench, spare tire
  • Windshield scraper, broom
  • Small tools (pliers, wrench, screwdriver)
  • Booster cables
  • Brightly colored cloth to use as a flag, flares or reflective triangles

Emergency Supply Kit

Keep enough supplies in your home to survive on your own, or shelter in place, for up to seven days. If possible, keep these materials in an easily accessible, separate container or special cupboard. You should indicate to your household members that these supplies are for emergencies only. Check expiration dates of food and update your kits when you change your clock during daylight saving times.

  • One gallon of drinking water per person per day
  • Nonperishable, ready-to-eat canned foods and manual can opener
  • First-aid kit
  • Flashlight (Note: Traditional flashlight bulbs have limited lifespans. Light Emitting Diode (LED) flashlights, however, are more durable and last up to 10 times longer than traditional bulbs.)
  • Battery-operated AM/FM radio and extra batteries (you can also buy wind-up radios that do not require batteries)
  • Whistle
  • Iodine tablets or one quart of unscented bleach (for disinfecting water ONLY if directed to do so by health officials) and eyedropper (for adding bleach to water)
  • Personal hygiene items: soap, feminine hygiene products, toothbrush and toothpaste, etc.
  • Phone that does not rely on electricity
  • Child care supplies or other special care items

Regardless of the season, it's a good idea to prepare for an in-car emergency. Assemble an emergency supply kit for your vehicle, and consider adding the following items for winter conditions:

  • Blankets, sleeping bags, extra newspapers for insulation
  • Plastic bags (for sanitation)
  • Extra mittens, socks, scarves and hat, raingear and extra clothes
  • Sack of sand or kitty litter for gaining traction under wheels, small shovel
  • Set of tire chains or traction mats
  • Working jack and lug wrench, spare tire
  • Windshield scraper, broom
  • Small tools (pliers, wrench, screwdriver)
  • Booster cables
  • Brightly colored cloth to use as a flag, flares or reflective triangles