Cold Weather Safety Tips

With extremely cold temperatures currently in New England, which are not expected to let up until some time in January, Chief Timothy Bradshaw and the Taunton Fire Department would like to provide the community with several important safety tips.

According to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, daytime high temperatures will likely not rise above the teens from Thursday through the weekend, and high temperatures in some interior locations may not rise above the single digits. Overnight low temperatures will likely drop below zero.

The coldest periods are forecast to be Thursday morning and Thursday night into Friday morning. Another bout of especially low wind chills is possible Saturday night into Sunday morning and Sunday night into Monday morning.

"During this extreme cold, it is best to stay indoors and limit outdoor activity as much as possible," Chief Bradshaw said. "If you must go outdoors, be sure to wear multiple layers and try not to leave your skin exposed to the frigid air for too long."

With this type of weather, frostbite and hypothermia are possible for those without proper protection from the cold. To stay safe, the Taunton Fire Department asks that residents follow these tips from the MEMA:

  • Minimize outdoor activities for the whole family, including pets.
  • If outside, dress in several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing instead of a single heavy layer. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Wear a hat, mittens (not gloves) and sturdy waterproof boots to protect your extremities. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
  • Be a good neighbor. Check with elderly or disabled relatives and neighbors to ensure their safety. Additionally, because of the extreme cold, other areas of your home and vehicles may be affected:
    • Possible increase in fires from unsafe/improper use of alternative heating sources or people trying to thaw frozen pipes with blowtorches or similar devices.
    • If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Locate the area of the water pipe that might be frozen. Likely places include pipes running against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
    • Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, or wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame devices. A blowtorch can make water in a frozen pipe boil and cause the pipe to explode. All open flames in homes present a serious fire danger, as well as a severe risk of exposure to lethal carbon monoxide.
  • Possible increase in incidents of carbon monoxide poisoning from unsafe/improper use of alternative heating sources.
  • Ensure you have sufficient heating fuel, as well as alternate emergency heating equipment in case you lose electricity. There are many resources available for low-income residents who meet certain requirements. National Grid and Eversource offer discounted rates on services to those who are eligible. The state's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program can help certain households pay for a portion of their heating bills.
  • Be sure to check that your carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors are working properly and replace old batteries with new ones.
  • When utilizing alternate heating sources, such as an emergency generator, your fireplace, wood stove, or space heater, make sure they are properly ventilated and always operate a generator outdoors and away from your home. Improper heating devices can lead to dangerous carbon monoxide buildup in the home.

Possible Vehicle Failure

  • Make sure your car is properly winterized. Keep the gas tank at least half-full. Carry a winter emergency car kit including blankets, extra clothing, a flashlight with spare batteries, non-perishable foods, windshield scraper, shovel, sand, tow rope and jumper cables in the trunk.