January 23, 2016

Clearing Snow

The Philadelphia Streets Department reminds property owners that they are required to clear a three (3) foot path in front of their property within six (6) hours of the end of the storm. Property owners should also shovel snow from curb cuts. Residents should not shovel or toss snow onto city streets. It is against the law to do this. Also, drivers should not park vehicles too close to corners as snow plowing equipment need extra room to turn safely at corners. Parking too close to a corner will hinder efficient snow removal from streets.

City officials ask residents to clear snow and ice from fire hydrants so that firefighters can hook up hoses quickly in the event of a fire. In addition, please clear snow and ice away from storm drains on your block to allow melting snow to flow directly down the drains. This will help to prevent icy road conditions. With the weather outlook of temperatures in the 40’s in the days following the storm, clearing snow and ice away from the drains is even more important as conditions will be higher for flooding when large amounts of snow melt quickly.


Winter Weather Tips to Stay Healthy

To stay warm, the Health Department advises wearing a windproof outer layer of clothing and several dry, loose fitting layers of clothing. Avoid cotton and tight clothing. Please also avoid drinking to excess. Drinking alcoholic beverages places one at greater risk for cold-related injuries, since alcohol can result in the loss of body heat. Know the danger signs of hypothermia: confusion, difficulty in speaking, shivering, slow breathing, difficulty in waking, stiff muscles, puffiness in the face, absent-mindedness, and trembling of one side of the body. If you see anyone in these conditions, call 911.

Frostbite is frozen body tissue, usually skin. It affects the extremities first: fingers, toes, ears, and the tip of the nose. Symptoms of frostbite include: skin might lose feeling, skin may look white, pale, hard or waxy, as the area thaws, skin may turn red, blue or purple, skin can also swell or blister. The victim may also feel tingling, burning or severe pain as the frostbitten tissue thaws. Children lose body heat faster than adults do, so they can get frostbite faster.

If you suspect frostbite, get the victim to a warm room or shelter, give the victim warm drinks, but no alcohol; remove any wet clothing; don’t walk on frostbitten feet or toes. Doing so can cause more damage; warm the affected areas in warm (not hot) water, or with warm blankets; don’t rub frostbitten skin; don’t use a heating pad, heat lamp, or heat from a stove, fireplace or radiator to warm the frostbitten areas. Numb body parts can’t feel the heat, and can get burned; if skin color and feeling don’t return to normal quickly, get medical help as soon as possible.


Snow Shoveling Safety Tips

  • Avoid overexertion. Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. Take frequent rest breaks and drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Warm up with some stretching exercises inside.
  • Start slowly and pace yourself. Shovel five loads only a minute. After 15 minutes of shoveling, take a break. Pause to stretch every five minutes by standing up straight.
  • Push the snow. Don’t lift. If you must lift, use your legs not your back.
  • Drink during breaks to avoid dehydration. Breathing cold dry air robs moisture from your body with every breath.
  • Never throw snow over your shoulder. Twisting can strain the back. Face the snow being shoveled, keep your back straight, knees bent, and throw in front of you.
  • Dress warmly in layers with a hat. Cover your neck.
  • Take smaller scoops of snow, keeping them light and small.
  • Don’t work up a sweat. Bodies lose heat faster in damp clothes, which makes you more prone to injury. Take a break if you’re beginning to sweat.
  • Don’t smoke or eat a heavy meal before shoveling. It’s harder on the heart.
  • Don’t hold your breath; this makes your heart rate and blood pressure rise.
  • Don’t feel the job has to get done in one session.
  • Do clear snow in front of fire hydrants and storm drains when clearing sidewalks and driveways.


Be a Good Neighbor

Remember to help your neighbors, especially older adults, people with disabilities, and those who are house bound. Please also check with them during the storm, if possible, to ensure they have heat or need any assistance.

If you see a homeless person in need of assistance during the storm, please call Project Home Outreach Hotline at 215-232-1984.

The City that requires dog owners to bring their pets indoors in the event of extreme cold. Ignoring this could result in fine of up to $500. If you see a dog or other pet outside, call ACCT Philly at 267-385-3800.


Porch and Building Safety

If possibly, try to clear snow from porches. Sagging porches and building roofs, and warping columns are signs of a building made dangerous by heavy snow. If you see these dangerous conditions, get to safety and call 911 immediately.


Home Heating Safety Tips

Use electric heaters with extreme caution to prevent shock, fire, and burns. NEVER use a kerosene heater indoors. Keep items at least three (3) feet from heat sources, to help prevent fire. Never use a gas oven or burner to heat your home.


Portable Heaters

The Philadelphia Fire Code permits the use of portable kerosene heaters in one and two family dwellings only. Portable propane heaters can be used outdoors only. When purchasing a new portable heater, select those with the mark of an independent testing laboratory. Use and maintain the heater by following manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Keep heater at least three (3) feet away from anything, including furniture, bedding, clothing, pets, and people, that can burn.
  • Turn off space heaters when you are not in the room.
  • Children and pets should be supervised at all times when space heaters are in use.
  • Only use space heaters to heat a room. Never use them to cook food, dry clothes, or heat water for humidification.
  • Always keep portable heaters away from the entrance to rooms, in case you need to get out quickly.
  • Use only the fuel recommended by the manufacturer. Use only an approved container clearly marked with the name of the fuel.
  • Always refill kerosene heaters outside when the unit is cool. Use a siphon pump to prevent spills.
  • Never place heater cords under carpeting or furniture.
  • Do not use extension cords with electric heaters. If you must use an extension cord, only use a properly rated extension cord that does not get hot when in use at the highest setting.
  • Always have a working smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector in rooms where you sleep, especially when using portable heaters. Test the smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector to make sure they are working properly.


Protect Your Home’s Water System

Cold air blowing through drafty windows or in unheated areas can cause water pipes to burst or damage water meters. Try these Water Department tips to ensure that your home’s water system is ready to face the worst that winter can blow your way:

  • Shut off outside water faucets from your inside valves, leaving the outside valve open to drain the faucet.
  • Keep your water meter above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Wrap the water meter and the connecting piping with insulation.
  • Caulk windows near water meters or pipes and COVER those windows with plastic.
  • Replace or cover cracked or broken windows.
  • Wrap and insulate all water pipes in unheated areas, such as underneath a shed or kitchen floor.
  • Let water run overnight at a trickle in extremely cold weather to keep the pipes from freezing.
  • Have your vacant property winterized by a registered plumber.
  • If you have any questions, please call the Philadelphia Water Department at 215-685-6300.


Philly 311

The Philly 311 Call Center will remain open this weekend to take calls for non-emergencies and to provide the most current storm-related information:

  • Saturday – 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Sunday – 8:00 a.m. to midnight
  • Monday – open at 6:00 a.m.

Stay informed:

  • Tune to local news for weather updates.
  • Sign up for emergency alerts and weather updates from ReadyPhiladelphia at www.phila.gov/ready.
  • For more winter weather tips, visit the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management online at www.phila.gov/ready.
  • For official updates from the City, follow @PhilaOEM on Twitter or find them on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube and Blogspot.
  • Other City Twitter accounts to follow for information: @PhiladelphiaGov; @Philly311; @PhilaStreets; @PhillyPolice; and @PhillyFireDept.