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Boston Plans for Freezing Temperatures

If you notice anyone in immediate danger as a result of the extreme cold, notify public safety officials by calling 9-1-1.

Temperatures in Boston will go from extremely cold to extremely colder this week, and the city of Boston is urging residents to take care of themselves and look out for others during single-digit temperatures. 

On Thursday, daytime temperatures could reach negative 9 degrees with wind chill, and overnight temperatures are expected to be 7 degrees with a windchill of negative 7 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

“We were fortunate to have a mild winter last year, and we want to make sure people are safe now that we’re seeing extremely cold weather in Boston again,” Mayor Thomas Menino said. “I’ve asked everyone to be vigilant over the next few days and to keep an eye out for any neighbors in need.  There is plenty of warm shelter available around the city, and we’re here to help anyone that may be vulnerable during this time.”

City officials have been coordinating for days to prepare for the deep freeze, Boston officials said in a statement. All adult emergency shelters will remain open 24 hours a day for the duration of the extreme cold weather.

Boston Health Care for the Homeless is in contact with hospitals and emergency rooms to offer follow-up care for homeless people that experience cold weather health issues, and Boston EMS, Boston Police, MBTA Police and State Police are all working together to watch out for people in peril and to provide assessment and transportation as needed, according to the statement. 

Anyone that notices someone in immediate danger as a result of the extreme cold should notify public safety officials by calling 9-1-1.

Know Your Rights 

All residential units should be heated to at least 68 degrees during the day and 64 degrees at night, according to Massachusetts law. Tenants that experience heating issues should first contact their landlords to correct any problems. If a landlord is unresponsive, Boston residents can contact the Mayor’s 24-hour hotline for assistance at 617-635-4500. 

Hotline staff will alert the city’s Inspectional Services Department, which has housing and building inspectors on duty to investigate situations and to work with property owners to get heat turned back on.

Inspectional Services has expanded its cold weather response resources to include: additional on-call housing and building inspectors who will respond to no heat calls, faulty heating systems and frozen pipes and conduct spot checks of home heating fuel trucks.

To-date this winter, the department has responded to 644 no heat calls and conducted 43 spot checks of oil delivery trucks, the mayor's office said.

General Heating Safety Tips

  • Never use your oven for heat.
  • Electric powered portable heaters should never be left on while sleeping and should be kept at least three feet away from combustible materials.
  • Do not overload electrical sockets.
  • Never leave candles unattended.
  • CO detectors are now required in homes by law. They must be within ten feet of sleeping areas.
  • Working smoking detectors should be on each floor of your home, particularly near bedrooms.
  • To avoid frozen pipes, let warm water drip overnight in faucets, preferably from a faucet on an outdoor wall, and leave cabinet doors open to allow heat to reach uninsulated pipes.

Cold Weather Tips from the Boston Public Health Commission

  • Layer clothing.
  • Cover exposed skin. Skin is vulnerable to frost bite at such low temperatures.
  • Keep moving while outdoors.
  • Check on elderly family and neighbors.
  • Avoid getting wet, and avoid walking on frozen ponds and lakes as ice may not be fully frozen.
  • Drink warm, non-caffeinated fluids.
  • Keep pets indoors.

Additional winter safety guidance is available at www.BPHC.org.

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