It’s often called the most wonderful time of the year, but whoever coined that phrase must have been a fan of freezing temperatures. With a mild fall finally giving way to traditional winter weather over the past week, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) wants residents to make sure they protect themselves, their homes, their loved ones and their pets from the dangers presented by the harsh conditions.
“Although no amount of preparations can prepare us for a natural disaster, we have taken the necessary steps to ensure that Suffolk County is prepared to handle routine inclement weather conditions,” Bellone said at a press conference Dec. 15, where he was joined by Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini and other county officials. “We have been extremely fortunate this winter, but looking at forecasts, it appears our luck is running out. Now is the time for our residents to make sure they take the necessary precautions to protect themselves.”
County service centers
• Riverhead Center
893 E. Main Street
Riverhead, New York 11901-2542
• Coram Center
80 Middle Country Road
Coram, New York 11727
• Smithtown Center
200 Wireless Boulevard
Hauppauge, New York 11788
• South West Center
2 South 2nd Street
Deer Park, New York 11729
Bellone suggested several precautions Suffolk County residents should take to ensure safety and avoid inconveniences during the winter months, including running water to prevent pipes from freezing; keeping portable heaters on flat surfaces and away from flammable objects; driving with caution even without the presence of precipitation; checking on loved ones, especially the elderly; watching for some of the signs of hypothermia, like confusion, memory loss, drowsiness, exhaustion and slurred speech; keeping pets indoors; and disconnecting hoses from exterior lines.
Bellone has partnered with the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless to collect new or gently used winter jackets for those in need. Coats can be donated at county facilities across Suffolk.
Residents can contact the county’s Temporary Housing Assistance Unit at 631-854-9547 or the Department of Social Services Home Energy Assistance Program at 631-854-9100 in the event they run out of fuel to heat their home or require emergency burner repair.
The county executive also detailed options for the homeless during times when temperatures can plummet to the point of presenting deadly consequences. Sheltering assistance is available at Suffolk County service centers located in Deer Park, Coram, Hauppauge and Riverhead, and the county also implemented a Safe Beds Program to provide residents in need with warm shelter during the winter. More information about these programs can be found on the county’s website at www.suffolkcountyny.gov.
“Nobody should be left out in this dangerously cold spell,” Bellone said.