Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone was joined by Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy D. Sini, Suffolk County Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services (FRES) Commissioner Joe Williams, Suffolk County Department of Public Works Commissioner Gil Anderson and the Suffolk County Department of Social Services Commissioner John O’Neill to address the county’s inclement weather protocols in the onset of the first major cold spell of the year.
The updates were provided as the region will experience below freezing temperatures during consecutive days for the first time this season as well as mixed precipitation and snowfall this weekend.
“Nobody should be left out in this dangerously cold spell,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.
“Although no amount of preparations can prepare us for a natural disaster, we have taken the necessary steps to ensure that Suffolk County is prepared to handle routine inclement weather conditions. We have been extremely fortunate this winter, but looking at forecasts, it appears our luck is running out. Now is the time for our residents to make sure they take the necessary precautions to protect themselves.”
The Suffolk County Department of Public Works has access to more than 169 pieces of snow removal equipment, including five new heavy duty snow removal trucks, to help clear snow and winter-related debris from more than 1,600 lane miles in Suffolk County. The department has approximately 18,000 tons of salt ready to clear roads, and is prepared to acquire more if necessary.
For temporary housing assistance, residents are advised to contact the County’s Temporary Housing Assistance Unit at 631-854-9547. In addition, residents who receive HEAP benefits and are out of fuel or in need of an emergency burner repair are advised to contact the Suffolk County Department of Social Services Home Energy Assistance Program at 631-853-8820.
If assistance is needed on weekdays after 4:30 p.m., weekends or holidays, residents can call the Department of Social Services Emergency Services Unit at 631-854-9100.
Sheltering assistance is additionally available at Suffolk County service centers located in Deer Park, Coram, Hauppauge and Riverhead. Specific addresses and information on these centers can be found on www.suffolkcountyny.gov. The department has also implemented the County’s Safe Beds Program where additional housing slots are provided for residents if needed during the cold winter months.
County Executive Bellone is also partnering with Long Island Coalition for the Homeless to organize a county-organized winter coat drive to provide residents in need with new or lightly used jackets this winter. Donation boxes are currently located in county facilities, including the H. Lee Dennison Building, the Suffolk County Police Department Headquarters, the Mary Gordon Building, and the Suffolk County Department of Labor. Residents are encouraged to drop off coats or other winter apparel. All donations are tax deductible and residents can log onto addressthehomeless.org for more information.
The County Executive additionally provided the following winter weather tips for homeowners and residents to stay safe:
- Protect your pipes. Run water at times to help prevent your pipes from freezing.
- Make sure portable heaters are placed on a flat, leveled surface and to keep all flammable objects, including cloth, papers and rugs, away from it.
- Drive with caution and be mindful of your surroundings. During the winter, roads may ice over and become slippery even if no precipitation is present.
- Check on friends and loved ones who are elderly or may be sick during the extreme cold or during snowfall.
- When outdoors, cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs from extreme cold.
- Be aware of the warning signs of hypothermia, which include shivering, confusion, memory loss, drowsiness, exhaustion and slurred speech. Infants and children who are suffering from hypothermia may appear to have very low energy and bright red, cold skin.
- Unvented or malfunctioning space heaters can emit carbon monoxide so make sure that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are operating properly and have fresh batteries.
- Pets should never be left outside while you are at work or out of the house for any extended period of time.
- Walks should be limited to less than 15 minutes if the temperature is below freezing.
- If your dog must be outside for any reason this winter, monitor them closely and be sure to bring them indoors if they begin to show signs of distress.