By Alice Kenny
As bitter cold bites New York plunging temperatures to their lowest in decades, Catholic Charities joins with the New York City Office of Emergency Management to help keep you and our fellow neighbors warm.
Warning: Prolonged exposure to extreme cold weather can be deadly. The National Weather service forecasts wind chills of near -10 degrees and below-freezing temperatures until Thursday.
Vulnerable populations, such as seniors and infants, are most at risk during extreme weather. So it’s important to check on friends, family and neighbors if you think they need help getting to a warm place.
The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene encourages everyone to stay indoors as much as possible. If your home lacks heat, get to a warm, safe place immediately.
To discourage unnecessary trips outdoors, the NYC Department of Aging asks Catholic Charities and fellow operators of senior centers encourage participants to stay home. None-the-less, some seniors need meals and a warm place to stay.
- Catholic Charities opened its senior centers in certain locations including Staten Island.
- We are also providing extra meals to bring home along with cold weather safety tips to avoid unnecessary trips outdoors.
- Case managers are calling to check on homebound seniors and high-risk clients during the cold weather.
We urge you to join us in checking on neighbors, friends and relatives.
- If you are concerned about someone on the street who may be homeless and in need of assistance call 311 and ask for the Mobile Outreach Response Team. The Department of Homeless Services will send an outreach team to the location to assess the individual’s condition and take appropriate action.
- If your building is cold, check on your neighbors. If you know someone who is vulnerable and lacking heat, help them get to warm places and notify the building manager and/or call 311 to get heat restored. If you see someone with signs of hypothermia such as confusion, shivering, slurred speech, drowsiness call 911 for help and help the person get warm while waiting for help.
- Landlords and building managers should check their building systems to ensure heat, and check on vulnerable people
Health problems resulting from prolonged exposure to cold include hypothermia, frostbite and exacerbation of chronic heart and lung conditions. Recognize the signs and symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite:
- Hypothermia is a life-threatening condition where the body temperature is abnormally low. Symptoms may include shivering, slurred speech, sluggishness, drowsiness, unusual behavior, confusion, dizziness, and shallow breathing. Some people, such as infants, seniors, and those with chronic diseases and substance abuse problems can get sick quicker. Check on friends, relatives, and neighbors who may need assistance to ensure they are adequately protected from the cold.
- Frostbite is a serious injury to a body part frozen from exposure to the cold. It most often affects extremities like fingers and toes or exposed areas such as ears or parts of the face. Redness and pain may be the first warning of frostbite. Other symptoms include numbness or skin that appears pale, firm, or waxy.
Provide first aid:
- If you suspect a person is suffering from frostbite or hypothermia, call 911 to get medical help.
- While waiting for assistance to arrive, help the person get warm by getting them to a warm place if possible, removing any damp clothing and covering them with warm blankets.
- What to Do if You Lose Heat or Hot Water at Home
- Safe Home Heating
- Fire safety
- If You Need Emergency Heating Assistance
- Shelters and drop-in centers
For more information about cold weather safety and how you can prepare for emergencies call 311 or visit www.nyc.gov/oem.
Click here for more information on Catholic Charities emergency food and shelter programs.
Call the Catholic Charities Help Line at 888-744-7900.