Winter safety tips as freezing weather hits NYC area

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Winter Weather New York City

Ice floats in the Hudson River in Lower Manhattan

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NEW YORK — New York and New Jersey leaders advised caution and opened shelters as the coldest weather of the winter season arrived in the tri-state area Friday, bringing sub-zero wind chills and arctic air expected to last through the weekend.

The PIX11 Weather Team reported the high temperature would only reach 23 degrees in New York City and the low 20s in the suburbs. Wind-chill temperatures were expected to be in the single digits to below zero in spots throughout much of Friday.

Wind gusts across New York were forecast to reach 25 to 40 mph in some locations, including New York City, Long Island and the Capital Region, further increasing the danger of harsh wind-chill effects. On Saturday night, low temperatures were expected likely remain around or below zero degrees for many upstate locations.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged New Yorkers to use caution over the weekend.

“New York is in the midst of another wave of extreme cold as climate change increasingly requires us to cope with erratic and severe weather as well as hundred-year storms that happen twice a year,” Cuomo said in a statement. “While outdoor activities are a staple of winter in New York, this cold has created a really dangerous situation that will continue for the next day or two. During that time, it’s critical for New Yorkers to not only be smart but to limit their own household’s exposure to the elements.”

The Red Cross offered the following tips for cold weather safety:

  • Before tackling strenuous tasks in cold temperatures, consider your physical condition, the weather factors and the nature of the task.
  • Protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.
  • Bring pets inside during winter weather.
  • Make sure coats, gloves or mittens, hats, boots and warm clothing are available for all household members, along with extra blankets.
  • Eat regular meals and stay hydrated, but avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.
  • Eat regularly. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat.
  • Check on relatives, neighbors, and friends, particularly if they are elderly or if they live alone.
  • Keep the gas tank full. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.

New York City residents were urged to sign up for NotifyNYC alerts for the latest news on services affected by the dip in temperatures. Residents could also get winter safety tips — including what to do if you lose heat or need emergency assistance — on the City’s website.

The state of New Jersey has its own list of tips for preparing for winter emergencies on its website.

Amid the brutal cold, New York City was put under a “Code Blue,” meaning no one who is homeless should be denied a warm place to stay. Organizations around the city said they were working hard to try and find shelters for the homeless during the freezing weather, but some shelters stopped admitting new residents due to the pandemic.

The New York City Department of Homeless Services asked that people call 311 if they saw anyone at risk, “especially those living on the street.”

The city of Newark extended its own “Code Blue” protections for the homeless Friday through Tuesday, Feb. 2. You can find a list of those shelters here.

For those on Long Island, Nassau County is opening warming centers from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. throughout the weekend.

The state of New York asked residents to be vigilant for signs of frostbite and said that if a person’s body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, they should seek emergency medical assistance immediately. Other advice included removing wet clothing, wrapping the victim in warm blankets, and giving them warm, non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated liquids until help arrives.

State officials offered further tips for detecting and avoiding frostbite.

  • People working or playing outdoors during the winter can develop frostbite and not even know it. There is no pain associated with the early stages of frostbite, so learn to watch for these danger signs:
  • Skin may feel numb and become flushed, then turns white or grayish-yellow; frostbitten skin feels cold to the touch.
  • If frostbite is suspected, move the victim to a warm area and cover the affected area with something warm and dry. Never rub it!
  • Get to a doctor or hospital as quickly as possible.

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