This past week, Long Island saw historically low temperatures that dipped below zero when the wind chill was factored in, icy, treacherous driving conditions and, to top it all off, a “bomb cyclone” (likened to a hurricane, only in winter).
Whew! You might have told yourself, That’s enough of winter. And this week’s warming trend may have convinced you that the weather gods were listening. But unless you plan to head south, we hate to say it, but we have well over two months to go before spring. So now is an excellent time to think about winter safety. As we saw last week, winter is full of its share of anxiety-producing challenges — frozen pipes, house fires, frostbite.
The American Red Cross offers the following safety tips to help you make it through the winter unscathed:
1. Layer up. Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing your body heat.
2. Don’t forget your furry friends. Bring pets indoors. In the Town of Hempstead, it is, in fact, illegal to leave a pet outside, unsheltered, for more than a half-hour.
3. Remember the three-foot rule. If you’re using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable — paper, clothing, bedding, curtains, even rugs — at least three feet away.
4. Keep a close eye. Turn off space heaters, and make sure fireplace embers are out, before you leave the room or go to bed.
5. Don’t catch fire. Use a glass or metal fire screen in front of your fireplace that’s large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
6. Protect your pipes. Run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent pipes from freezing. Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. (Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of the reach of children.) Keep the garage doors closed if there are water lines in the garage.
7. Better safely warm than sorry. Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night. Your heating bill may be a little higher, but you may avoid a more costly repair job by preventing your pipes from freezing and bursting.
8. The kitchen is for cooking. Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.
9. Use generators outside. Never operate a generator inside your home — not even in the basement or garage.
10. Use generators correctly. Don’t hook a generator up to your home’s wiring. Instead, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.