SOMERVILLE – The National Weather Service is warning of dangerously cold temperatures and wind chills in Massachusetts Friday through early Sunday, February 3-5. The coldest period is forecast for Friday evening into Saturday when wind chills could reach up to 30 degrees below zero.
Mayor Ballantyne and Emergency Management staff urge all community members to take precautions to keep themselves and others safe. Review the following information to prepare for this weekend. Please also check on the elderly and persons with disabilities, and request Police assistance via 911 for unsheltered persons experiencing homelessness.
Somerville Police will be conducting ongoing patrols to seek unsheltered persons and will coordinate with emergency medical services and local shelter staff to provide transport to area shelters, emergency rooms, or other shelter. They will also be distributing warm clothing and warming supplies.
Stay Safe During Extreme Cold
Learn the symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia. In an emergency, call 911.
Minimize time outdoors, even for pets. For this weather event, if possible, stay indoors and keep pets in from Friday evening to Saturday mid-day.
If you do go outside, wear several layers of warm, lightweight clothing rather than one heavy layer. Your outer layer should be tightly woven and water-repellent. Also wear a hat, mittens, warm socks, and waterproof boots. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs, and avoid leaving any skin exposed. Frostbite can develop on exposed skin in minutes during extreme cold.
Drink warm liquids and water to stay hydrated. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Dehydration occurs more quickly in cold, dry weather.
Follow all safety precautions if using a space heater and keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Keep space heaters at least 3 feet from anything that can burn, like curtains and furniture, and turn them off when you go to bed or leave the house. Plug a space heater directly into a wall outlet instead of using an extension cord.
Do NOT use a stove or oven as a heat source.
Stay tuned to the weather to monitor for any changes in the forecast.
Prepare for Extreme Cold
Check that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working and have fresh batteries.
Gather supplies, including food and water to last several days.
Set your heat to at least 55 degrees and keep faucets dripping to prevent frozen pipes.
Locate your electricity, gas, and water switches and valves and identify how to shut them off. You may need to turn off water pipes if your pipes freeze or burst.
Make sure your vehicle’s gas tank is at least half full, and pack an emergency kit that includes blankets and warm clothing.
Check on your neighbors, especially the elderly or persons with disabilities. Be sure they have food, medications, and necessary supplies. If the power goes out, check on them again.
Prepare a list of contractors for heat and plumbing repairs or have your landlord/property manager’s number handy in case of emergency.
Charge all devices such as phones, tablets, and laptops in advance. Ensure radios and flashlights have batteries.
What to Do If…
You see a person experiencing homelessness outside or sheltering in a car: Call 911.
You lose heat: First, check the thermostat to be sure the heat is on. Then, either contact a licensed repair service or report the outage to your landlord or property manager right away.
If your landlord does not respond to a report of a heat outage: Call 311 to lodge a complaint and seek assistance.
This winter event is not expected to lead to power outages, but if you lose heat due to a power outage:
Contact Eversource to report the outage and for information on when power is expected to be restored:
text STAT to 23129 to get power alerts and restoration times, or
Minimize the opening of doors to conserve heat.
For assistance locating alternate shelter during a power outage: call 311, check the City website somervillema.gov and City social media (fb.com/somervillecity or twitter.com/somervillecity), and monitor local news for updates on emergency shelter openings.
An animal needs shelter: Contact Somerville Animal Control at 617-625-6600 ext. 2190.
Your water pipes freeze but have not burst: Open all faucets all the way, remove any insulation, and use a hair dryer or rags soaked in hot water to thaw lines.
Never use an open flame to thaw pipes.
If you cannot locate or resolve a frozen pipe, call a licensed plumber.
Your water pipes burst: Shut off your main water valve to minimize damage and call a licensed plumber.
Call 911 for Emergencies and 311 for Other Needs
If you have an emergency, always call 911.
If you have non-emergency questions or concerns, contact 311 at any time of the day or night.
311 phone lines are open 24/7.
Dial 311 (or 617-666-3311 from cell phones or outside of the city).
Please be aware that emails and social media posts to 311 are generally answered only during business hours. If it’s urgent, please call.
Libraries Open & Available for Warming, All Other Activities Canceled
All libraries will remain open during normal business hours and may be used for warming.
The following building closures and activity cancellations are in effect Saturday, February 4:
All City buildings except libraries will be closed.
All Somerville Public Schools buildings will be closed.
All Parks & Recreation and Somerville Public Schools programming is canceled.
For more information about cold-weather safety and local resources, go to somervillema.gov/coldweather.
Individuals with disabilities who need auxiliary aids and services for effective communication, written materials in alternative formats, or reasonable modifications in policies and procedures, in order to access the programs and activities of the City or to attend meetings, should contact the City’s ADA Coordinator, Adrienne Pomeroy, at 617-625-6600 x2059 or firstname.lastname@example.org.