New York, NY, January 18, 2005… The American Red Cross in Greater New York urges New Yorkers to take basic precautions and to be informed about critical heating and safety tips that could save lives.

“New Yorkers can follow some simple steps to prepare now as the winter season begins,” states Margaret Kelley, director of Preparedness at the American Red Cross in Greater New York.

Tips to be prepared outdoors:

  • Dress appropriately before going outdoors. The air temperature does not have to be below freezing for someone to experience cold emergencies such as hypothermia and frostbite. Dress in layers – you can take off a layer if you get too warm. Wear gloves or mittens, and replace wet clothing immediately.
  • Drink hot cider, soup or broth, which warm you and give you nutrients and energy. Avoid beverages with alcohol or caffeine; they will make you more susceptible to cold-weather emergencies like hypothermia.
  • Recognize the symptoms of cold weather illnesses such as hypothermia and frostbite. Symptoms of hypothermia include confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Warning signs of frostbite include gray, white or yellow skin discoloration. Both are serious; if any of these conditions are present, seek medical attention immediately.

Tips to be prepared at home:

  • Have extra blankets on hand.
  • Ensure that each member of your household has a warm coat, gloves, mittens, hat and water-resistant boots.
  • Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit containing:
    • First-aid kit and essential medications.
    • Battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries
    • Canned food and can opener.
    • Bottled water (at least one gallon of water per person per day to last at least 3 days).
    • Extra warm clothing, including boots, mittens and a hat.
  • Know what to do if you lose your heat source:
    • If you loose your heating source, remain in one room and close the doors. Roll towels and place them at the base of the doors to prevent the loss of heat and the entrance of cold air. Cover windows with sheets or towels. Place rolled towels at the base of doors leading outside.
    • Wrap yourself in layers of blankets and take hot showers if hot water is available.
    • If your heat is not restored, call family, neighbors or friends to see if you can stay with them.

Stay informed:

  • Watch and listen to local news reports to stay on top of the latest weather information.

The American Red Cross helps people avoid, prepare for and respond to emergencies. We also help them rebuild their lives after an emergency. In addition to responding to major disasters like the events of September 11, the American Red Cross in Greater New York responds to an average of eight emergencies a day such as fires, water main breaks and building collapses. The Red Cross also offers a variety of health and safety courses on such subjects as First Aid and Adult and Child CPR.