ALBANY, NY – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the New York State Office of Emergency Management (State OEM) are encouraging New York State residents affected by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee to take extra safety precautions because of colder temperatures that are forecasted for the next few days.
Some areas of the state may see temperatures drop into the 30s at night, prompting Federal and State emergency management officials to remind residents to think safety first when combatting this first night of pre-autumn cold.
“This is the first cold snap of the season, so residents, especially those affected by Irene and Lee, should use common sense and think of their safety and that of their loved ones when trying to ward off the evening chill,” said State OEM Director Andrew X. Feeney.
FEMA and State OEM officials offer the following safety recommendations:
- If your furnace was damaged, have it checked by a professional technician before use. Know how to use emergency heating equipment such as a gas or wood burning fireplace, gas-powered generator to run space heaters, or kerosene heaters.
- Keep gas-powered generators in a dry area outside of the residence at least 25 feet downwind and away from air intakes to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Make sure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
- Never light a charcoal grill inside or burn charcoal indoors, and don't use a gas range to heat your home. Using gas ovens or charcoal grills as a source of emergency heating can be deadly because of the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. If you lose electric power and do not have a safe emergency heat source, consider checking into a hotel or staying at designated shelters.
- If you are using a woodstove or fireplace to keep warm, always keep a screen around an open flame. Never use gasoline to start your fireplace. Do not close the damper when ashes are hot.
- House fires pose an additional risk if alternate heating sources are used without taking the necessary safety precautions. Keep all heaters at least three feet from flammable objects. Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid a build-up of toxic fumes and always refuel outside. Keep fire extinguishers on hand and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them.
Philip E. Parr, federal coordinating officer, said, “Whether you live in an area that is used to colder temperatures at this time of year or not, there are three simple steps all New Yorkers should take to get ready: put together an emergency supply kit, develop a family communications plan, and stay informed about the risks and emergencies in your community."
For more information, download the New York State Emergency Information Handbook online at http://www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/safety-info.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.