Winter Storms and Cold Weather Health and Safety Tips and Information

In preparation for or when dealing with significant winter storms and cold weather, please read the information and tips below.

Protect Yourself from Freezing Temperatures

Avoid unnecessary exposure to the cold. Be aware of both the temperature and the wind chill when planning outdoor activities. When you prepare to go outside in severe cold weather, please remember the following:

  • Most of your body heat is lost through your head so wear a hat, preferably one that covers your ears.
  • Dressing in layers helps you retain heat. You can remove layers as needed if you become too warm.
  • Mittens provide more warmth to your hands than gloves.
  • Wear waterproof, insulated boots to help avoid hypothermia or frostbite by keeping your feet warm and dry and to maintain your footing in ice and snow.
  • Get out of wet clothes immediately and warm the core body temperature with a blanket or warm fluids like hot cider or soup. Avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol if you expect you or someone you are trying to help has hypothermia or frostbite.
  • Recognize the symptoms of hypothermia that can be a serious medical condition: confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Seek medical attention immediately if you have these symptoms.
  • Recognize frostbite warning signs: gray, white or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, waxy feeling skin. Seek medical attention immediately if you have these symptoms.

Additional Health and Safety Cold Weather and Safe Snow Removal/Shoveling Tips

Carbon Monoxide Hazards - Prevention Tips

With any significant snow accumulations and snow drifts be sure to check to ensure that the exhausts of furnaces and dryers are not covered with snow, covered exhausts can cause carbon monoxide hazards in the home. Also, if you are without power or heat and using a generator or considering an alternative heat source please read this Carbon Monoxide Hazards Fact Sheet.

Safe Use of Alternative Heating Sources

Heat Your Home Safely! As families turn to alternative heating sources to supplement their home heating systems, they should take the following precautions:

  • Use caution with portable space heaters - Heating equipment is the leading cause of home fires during the winter months, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. About two-thirds of home heating fire deaths are caused by portable or fixed space heaters.
  • To prevent fire, place space heaters at least three feet away from anything combustible, including wallpaper, bedding, clothing, pets and people.
  • Never leave space heaters operating when you are not in the room or when you go to bed. Don't leave children or pets unattended near space heaters.
  • Drying wet mittens or other clothing over space heaters is a fire hazard.
  • Make sure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are working properly and replace batteries as necessary. REMEMBER: smoke alarms have a finite lifetime and should be replaced after 10 years. Many newer models have long-life batteries that do not need replacing during their 10 year lifespan.
  • Don't overload your electrical outlets when plugging in space heaters. Be careful of extension cords that present hazardous walkways.
  • Have your chimney connections and flues inspected by a professional and cleaned if necessary prior to the start of every heating season.
  • Use a sturdy fireplace screen when burning fires. Burn only wood - never burn paper or pine boughs.

Loss of Heat Assistance

For Town of Fairfield residents experiencing problems with their heat, until the necessary repairs can be made, you should consider staying with a family member or a friend or utilizing a hotel for sleeping purpose.  Alternative heating sources may be use but should be done so safely, see the tips above.  Public buildings such as libraries, malls or senior centers can be used to keep warm during the day.

For renters experiencing heating equipment problems please contact your landlord first who should make arrangements to have the heat restored. The landlord is not responsible if the problem is due a tenants lack of payment of heating bills or running out of oil (unless your lease states that the landlord provides heat).  If the landlord fails to restore the heat within a reasonable time period (12-24 hour from notification) please call the Health Department at 203 256-3020 between the hours of 8:30 and 4:30 M-F for assistance.

Renters without the means to pay oil/gas bills or home owners experiencing heating problems but lacking the means to pay for the needed repairs should contact the Social Services Department at 203 256-3166 who can direct you to resources available from their department or other departments/programs. If the above problems occur during weekend or evening hours and you lack the means to have the heat restored or your landlord has not responded in a reasonable period, please call the Emergency Communications Center (ECC) at 203 254-4800, the ECC staff will contact the appropriate department or arrange for assistance with any life safety concerns.

Shelters and Warming Centers

If the Town opens designated shelters or warming centers the information on the locations and hours of operation will typically be posted on the Town's homepage and would be available by calling 211.  In the absence of such shelter/center being opened, residents can use public locations such as libraries, malls or senior centers as locations to warm up if needed.

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