FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Odell Issues Cold Weather Alert for Area Seniors

MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001

January 6, 2014

Odell Issues Cold Weather Alert for Area Seniors

Severely cold temperatures and high winds are due in later today and are expected to cause threatening conditions across Putnam County. Elderly residents can be most at risk during sub-freezing times like these.  

“As a precaution for the incoming harsh weather, several Putnam County departments have prepared health and safety reminders for our residents, especially our senior citizens,” said County Executive MaryEllen Odell.

Commissioner of Emergency Bureau Services Adam Stiebeling issued a weather warning early this afternoon when the balmy temperatures of the morning will quickly dissipate. West winds 10 to 15 mph and gusts up to 30 mph are expected with temperatures falling into the mid-30’s.

Tonight’s temperatures will plummet, however.

“Tonight will be windy and much colder with lows around four above zero,” Stiebeling said. “The westerly winds will increase to 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 45 mph and wind chill values could reach as low as 16 below zero after midnight.”

While Tuesday will be sunny, temperatures will remain well below freezing during the day with highs only around eight degrees. The westerly winds will remain around 15 to 25 mph with gusts expected up to 45 mph bringing the wind chill factor down as low as 21 degrees below zero.

The Arctic blast known as the “Polar Vortex” will continue into Tuesday night when temperatures are expected to hover around the zero mark. Winds will continue at 15 to 20 mph with gusts reaching 30 mph and causing a wind chill factor of 17 below zero.

Office for Aging Director Pat Sheehy has advised her staff to remind Putnam seniors to make sure they have adequate heat and food, means of communication and emergency power sources in case electricity fails during the high winds. 

Keeping warm is a priority but it must be accomplished safely. Seniors are reminded to make sure that heat sources in their homes are safe and in good working order. Since wood and pellet stoves, fireplaces, and space heaters are often favored sources of heat, residents are urged to check to make sure batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working. 

“Do not under any circumstances use kitchen stoves or ovens to heat your home,” said Sheehy.

Keeping cell phones charged is imperative. Sheehy suggested elderly residents have neighbors or relatives arrange to stay in contact either by cell phone or house phone throughout the cold spell.

Walking and driving in harsh weather should be avoided. If travel is necessary, Sheehy suggests having blankets, flashlights, a charged cell phone, snacks and water in the vehicle.

Odell noted that during Putnam’s recent unusually cold weather, local businesses and homeowners have experienced problems with freezing pipes.

“With another severe bout of cold weather due in tonight and lasting through tomorrow night, it is important to keep thermostats turned on and temperatures within homes and businesses high enough to prevent pipes from freezing,” she said. 

Sheehy said all OFA locations will remain heated during the expected cold spell. 

“Heat will be on 24 hours in our buildings to maintain the temperatures inside,” said Sheehy.

Commissioner of Highways and Facilities Fred Pena said his road crews are prepared to salt and sand the roads as the temperatures plummet. He, too, suggested residents turn their thermostats up until warmer temperatures return. As a precautionary measure, Pena also recommends keeping water dripping from faucets during the cold spell.