Mayor Walsh Issues Safety Tips Ahead of Bitterly Cold Weather
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For Immediate Release
February 11, 2016
Released By:
Mayor's Office
For More Information Contact:
Mayor's Press Office

BOSTON - Thursday, February 11, 2016 - With cold weather and below-freezing wind chills forecast through Monday, Mayor Martin J. Walsh is reminding residents to take precautions to stay safe. Forecasters are predicting a low of negative 4 degrees on Saturday, and negative 2 degrees on Sunday. 


Residents are encouraged to check on the well-being of elderly or disabled neighbors, be mindful of homeless individuals that may need assistance, and practice caution when using portable heating devices such as space heaters.  

Residents are also encouraged to sign up for notifications from AlertBoston, the city's notification system, and to call 311, download the BOS:311 app, or tweet at @BOS311 with questions or concerns. For additional information on how to stay safe this winter, visit  and follow @CityOfBoston on Twitter.

"Extremely low temperatures present challenges for our City and our residents, and we are working to monitor the situation and keep all our residents safe," said Mayor Walsh. "I ask each and every single Boston resident to stay safe and to look after their neighbors."    

Preventing Hypothermia and Frostbite
Dress for the Weather: 

  • Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing.  
  • Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. 
  • Wear mittens over gloves, layering works for your hands as well.
  • Always wear a hat and cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.  
  • Dress children warmly and set reasonable time limits on outdoor play. 
  • Restrict infants' outdoor exposure when it is colder than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Watch for signs of frostbite: 

  • These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. 
  • If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately. 

Watch for signs of hypothermia:

  • These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. 
  • If you or someone you know shows any of these symptoms, get in touch with a healthcare provider immediately. If symptoms are severe, call 911. 

Heating Safety

  • Never try to heat your home using a charcoal or gas grill, the kitchen stove, or other product not specifically designed as a heater as these can cause a fire or produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide very quickly. Using faulty or improper heating sources is the number two cause of home fires in Massachusetts. 
  • Have your heating system cleaned and checked annually. 
  • Install and maintain smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home. Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible gas produced whenever any fuel is burned, such as near oil or gas furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces, stoves, and some space heaters. It has no smell, taste, or color. It is a poison and is deadly.

Emergency Shelter Operations

  • The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) coordinates a city-wide network of emergency shelters, outreach providers, city agencies and first responders to assist those in need of shelter. Emergency shelters are open 24 hours and will accept any person in need.  Winter overflow shelters were opened in December; men can access shelters through 112 Southampton Street, and women should go to the Woods-Mullen Shelter at 794 Massachusetts Ave. BPHC and the City are working closely with shelter providers to ensure that no client is without shelter, food, resources, and a warm respite from the cold.
  • BPHC and EMS are working with several other community partners to to actively seek out individuals and help them find shelter and provide food, clothing, blankets, medical assistance to those in need. 
  • During extreme cold weather, street outreach teams operate with extended hours and provide mobile outreach vans on the streets two hours earlier in the evening and throughout the day.  If you see a person in need of shelter or who is not properly dress for the cold, please call 911. 

Heat Guidelines for Property Owners and Tenants 

  • In accordance with the Massachusetts State Sanitary Code, the heating season officially begins on September 15 and runs through June 15. Property owners must heat habitable spaces at a minimum temperature of 68° between 7 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and 64° between 11:01 p.m. to 6:59 a.m.
  • In case of emergency, property owners are encouraged to keep a list of licensed contractors (electrician, plumber and general contractor) on file.  Tenants, experiencing problems with their heating system should check the thermostat, ensuring the dial is turned on, and report insufficient or no heat problems to the property owner or manager immediately.
  • If your landlord or property manager is unresponsive, contact the Inspectional Services Department (ISD) at (617) 635-5300 to file a complaint, or call 311.  

Tips property owners can take to make their homes energy efficient: 

  • Disconnect water hose from the home.
  • Wrap or cover exposed spigot.
  • Caulk or putty windows.
  • Ensure kitchen and bathroom dampers close properly.
  • Close all storm windows and doors.
  • Apply weather stripping.
  • Properly insulate all pipes that are exposed.
  • Cover vents.

Emergency Operations

  • The City of Boston Office of Emergency Management (OEM) remains in constant contact with the National Weather Service to receive detailed forecasts for the City of Boston and ensures  each City department has a plan in place to handle the forecast. If the storm warrants, the City's Emergency Operations Center will be activated and City representatives will coordinate response and recovery efforts. 
  • Year round, OEM conducts preparedness seminars to educate the public on the importance of having an emergency preparedness plan and a bag of emergency supplies in the event that Boston residents have to shelter in place or leave their residence. 
  • As the City is notified in advance, residents who sign up for notifications will receive a message from the City about winter storms and extreme cold weather. This notification system also handles alerting residents when a snow emergency/parking ban is in effect and when it is being lifted.



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