6.7 min readBy Published On: January 6th, 2015Categories: News0 Comments on Cold Weather Tips from Mayor Walsh

Winter is here!  Only in New England can it be 50 degrees one day and then quickly drop below freezing.  It seems like we’re never mentally prepared for the bitter cold.  This week it was like someone flipped a switch – no winter to WINTER!!  Mayor Marty Walsh wants to make sure everyone is prepared and safe.  Here is some helpful advice, tips and information. 

From a press release:
With forecasters predicting bitterly cold weather this week, Mayor Martin J. Walsh reminds residents to take precautions in managing this week’s cold blast. With cold weather and wind chills in the teens forecast through Thursday, residents are encouraged to remain vigilant to help the City’s vulnerable populations at this time, particularly our homeless and elderly residents. For Boston, a low of 0 degrees will be the coldest reading in 4 years.  It has only reached 0 or colder twice in the past 10 years in Boston (2011 & 2005 when it was negative 2 degrees). In such cold conditions, Mayor Walsh reminds all Bostonians to take precautions to stay warm, as hypothermia or frost-bite set in quickly in freezing temperatures.  

“We are very concerned about this cold weather and are working to monitor the situation and keep all our residents safe,” said Mayor Walsh. “While we’re doing what we can to spread this information city-wide, I’m personally asking each and every single Boston resident to look after their neighbor, be it someone you see outdoors or someone living next door.”

Emergency Shelter Operations

The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) coordinates a city-wide network of emergency shelters, outreach providers, city agencies and first responders to assist the homeless. Individuals can receive resources and a warm bed all year round at the city-run Woods Mullen shelter and the temporary shelter at South End Fitness Center. With the needs being even greater this time of year, BPHC’s network of homeless service providers work to ensure that no client is ever without shelter.

Shelters are kept open during the day for the safety of clients. During cold weather, guests who have been previously barred for non-violent offenses are granted amnesty. Working with the Pine Street Outreach Team and Boston Healthcare for the Homeless, BPHC actively seeks out individuals and helps them find shelter during a cold snap, providing food, clothing, blankets, medical assistance to those in need. If you see a person in need of shelter or who is not properly dress for the cold, please call (617) 633- 0170. If the situation is an emergency, call 911.

Heat Guidelines for Property Owners

In accordance with the Massachusetts State Sanitary Code, the “heating season” officially begins September 15th and runs through June 15th. Property owners must provide heating facilities, which heat habitable spaces at a minimum temperature of 68? during the day, 7a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and 64? in the evening 11:01 p.m. to 6:59 a.m.
In case of emergency, property owners are encouraged to keep a list of licensed contractors (electrician, plumber and general contractor) on file.  Tenants, experiencing problems with their heating system should do the following: check the thermostat, ensuring the dial is turned on never run  out of oil and report insufficient or no heat problems to the property owner or manager immediately.
The following are quick tips property owners can take to make their homes energy efficient:
    –    Disconnect water hose from the home
    –    Wrap or cover exposed spigot
    –    Caulk or putty windows
    –    Ensure kitchen and bathroom dampers close properly
    –    Close all storm windows and doors
    –    Apply weather stripping
    –    Properly insulate all pipes that are exposed
    –    Cover vents
If your landlord or property manager is  unresponsive contact the Inspectional Services Department (ISD) at (617) 635-5300 to file a complaint.  Complaints made outside normal business hours should be called into the Mayor’s 24-Hour Hotline at 617-635-4500.  

Residents are encouraged to check on the well-being of elderly or disabled neighbors, be mindful of homeless individuals that may need assistance, and practice caution when using portable heating devices such as space heaters.

The City of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development’s Home Center HeatWorks  Program, in partnership with Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD)  and Renew Boston  offers grants up to 5,000 dollars, or no interest-deferred loans to homeowners so they can conduct energy audits, replace inefficient heating systems, and weatherize their homes by insulating them.

The program is available for Boston homeowners who are 60 years or older whose household income does not exceed 80% of area median income, and are an owner occupant of a residential 1-4 family home.  For additional information on our programs please visit our website at https://dnd.cityofboston.gov/#page/SeniorEmergencyHeatRepair .

Emergency Operations

The City of Boston Office of Emergency Management (OEM) remains in constant contact with the National Weather Service to receive detailed forecasts for the City of Boston and ensures  each City department has a plan in place to handle the forecast. If the storm warrants, the City’s Emergency Operations Center will be activated and City representatives will coordinate response and recovery efforts.

Year round, OEM conducts preparedness seminars to educate the public on the importance of having an emergency preparedness plan and a bag of emergency supplies in the event that Boston residents have to shelter in place or leave their residence. Residents are also encouraged to sign up for notifications from AlertBoston, the city’s notification system.

As the City is notified in advance, residents who sign up for notifications will receive a message from the City about Winter storms and extreme cold weather. This notification system also handles alerting residents when a snow emergency/parking ban is in effect and when it is being lifted.

Should you encounter a homeless individual in need of assistance, please notify public safety officials by calling 9-1-1 or the Mayor’s 24-hour Hotline at (617) 635-4500. For additional information on how to stay safe this winter, visit cityofboston.gov/cold.  

To protect yourself, remember to dress for the weather:

– Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing. This will allow you to adjust to changing temperatures throughout the day. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.

– Keep dry; change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat; wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.

– Protect your extremities! Wear mittens over gloves if needed. Layering works for your hands as well.

– Dress children warmly and set reasonable time limits for outdoor play.

– Cover exposed skin, but do not rub the affected area in an attempt to warm it up. Seek medical help immediately.

– Restrict infants’ outdoor exposure when it is colder than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

– Be mindful of senior citizens—medications and problems with circulation can reduce their ability to resist hypothermia.

– Make a Family Communications Plan. Families may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how to contact one another and reconvene in the event of an emergency.

– Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.

– Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.

– Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.

– Stay indoors during the storm. Remember! Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF) will remain open as warm centers throughout this cold period, during normal business hours. To find a center near you, visit: http://bit.ly/1tN2rIs.