Why prepare for cold weather? Winter in Massachusetts almost always includes periods of extreme cold weather. Exposure to cold can cause frostbite or hypothermia and has the potential to become life-threatening. Although anyone can suffer from cold weather-related health issues, some people are at greater risk than others.
To reduce the risks of extreme cold conditions, take the proper safety precautions to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Prevent frozen pipes by keeping your heat on at a normal level or leaving a slight drip on your faucets.
If your pipes freeze, don't use an open flame to thaw them - instead use a warmer like a hairdryer or a rag soaked in warm water.
Install and maintain your carbon monoxide detectors.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, colorless gas that prevents oxygen from getting to your brain and can be deadly.
Common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are: fatigue, confusion, headaches, dizziness, nausea.
Possible sources of carbon monoxide include: running engines in enclosed spaces (like cars, trucks, or snow blowers), oil or gas furnaces, water heaters, fire places and stoves, and some space heaters.
If you believe that you or a loved one might have carbon monoxide poisoning, seek medical attention immediately.
To save on heating bills, close the doors of rooms you are not using. Close the vents and shut the doors in these rooms and keep the basement door closed. Place a rolled towel at the bottom of all doors to keep drafts out.
About 30% of a home’s heating energy is lost through its windows. Keep window coverings like blinds or curtains open during the day to take advantage of the sun’s heat in the winter – especially windows that get direct sunlight. Close them at night to keep heat from escaping. If you have gaps around the windows, try using weather stripping or caulk to keep the cold air out. You can also apply inexpensive window insulation kits that create an airtight seal around windows.
In cases of extreme cold weather, the City will set up designated warming centers at public spaces to help keep the community safe. Please check social media feeds, including Facebook and Twitter, and news posts for the latest updates on warming centers.
Extreme cold can cause cold-related illness, including frostbite and hypothermia. If you or someone you know are experiencing these symptoms, please seek medical attention.
Frostbite is the freezing of the skin and body tissue.
Symptoms: Loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, earlobes, face, and the tip of the nose.
Treatment: Get into a warm location. Cover exposed skin, but do not rub the affected area. Seek medical attention immediately.
Hypothermia is abnormally low body temperature and is life-threatening.
Symptoms: Shivering, exhaustion, confusion, memory loss, and slurred speech.
Treatment: If symptoms of hypothermia are detected, take the person’s temperature. If it is below 95°, seek medical attention immediately. Get to a warm location. Remove wet clothing. Warm the center of the body first by wrapping the person in blankets or putting on dry clothing. Give them warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the person is conscious.
Winter storms may bring power outages that can disrupt things like communications, utilities, transportation, stores, gas stations and ATMs, and prevent your ability to use electrically powered medical devices. It’s important to be prepared for power outages:
Keep freezers and refrigerators closed. Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40 degrees or higher for two hours or more, or that has an unusual odor, color or texture.
If you use a generator, ONLY use it outdoors and away from windows.
Do not use a gas stove or oven to heat your home.
Disconnect appliances and electronics to avoid damage from electrical surges.
Have alternate plans for refrigerating medicines or using power-dependent medical devices.
Go to a community location with power if cold is extreme and you can’t heat your home.
Travel during the winter has unique risks, especially if you travel by car. Being prepared can help you “expect the unexpected” so your trip isn’t ruined by common problems travelers face in the winter:
Check your local weather and traffic reports before heading out.
If your roads are not in good shape, consider postponing non-essential travel until the roads are cleared. If you do have to go out, make sure you are prepared in case you become delayed while traveling.
Tell others your route and anticipated arrival time.
Make sure your vehicle is in good working condition before you travel.
Keep your gas tank as full as you can. A full tank will also keep the fuel line from freezing.
Install good winter tires and make sure they have enough tread, or any chains or studs required in your local area.
Every vehicle should have an emergency supply kit in the trunk. Kits should be checked every six months and expired items should be replaced regularly.
Keep family and emergency phone numbers, including your auto insurance provider and a towing company in your phone.
Consider keeping a power bank for your phone in your car in case your car loses power.
Election Day for the Presidential Primary is on Tuesday, March 5, 2024 and the City wants to share reminders about vote by mail and early voting!
If you’ve requested a vote by mail ballot, fill the ballot out and get it back to the Elections Office! You have options for returning your ballot. The ballot can be mailed to the Elections Commission, Room 102, 85 George P. Hassett Dr, Medford MA, 02155. It can also be dropped off at one of two secure drop boxes at City Hall: next to City Hall or outside Room 102. The deadline to request a vote by mail ballot is February 27 and ballots must be received by 8pm on March 5.
Early voting will take place at City Hall beginning on Saturday, February 24 through Friday, March 1 during the following times: