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Hamptons Life

Dec 31, 2018 4:41 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

County Services Available As Winter Weather Approaches

Dec 31, 2018 4:47 PM

Suffolk County officials are advising residents to be cautious as cold, wintery weather approaches.

According to County Executive Steve Bellone’s office, residents need to protect their pipes by running water at times to prevent them from freezing. Portable heaters should be placed on flat surfaces away from flammable objects to prevent fires, and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be fully charged to detect for signs of malfunctioning devices.

While outside, residents should cover their mouths with a scarf to protect their lungs from the cold. Walks outside should be limited to less than 15 minutes if the temperature is below freezing. Pets should be monitored closely while outdoors. Check on older and ill neighbors during extremely cold and snowy conditions, the county advises.

Anyone experiencing shivering, confusion, memory loss, drowsiness, exhaustion and slurred speech should consult with a doctor, the county executive’s office said, noting that sudden onset of these symptoms is a warning sign of hypothermia.

“As winter approaches, the county will provide available heat and shelter for those seeking to escape the frigid conditions,” Mr. Bellone said in a statement. “We encourage anyone who is in need of temporary housing, emergency fuel or other assistance to contact the Suffolk County Department of Social Services immediately.”

The Safe Beds Program provides emergency shelters for residents who need housing assistance when the temperature dips below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Temporary housing is available to residents who apply in-person at a county service center. The Riverhead center is located at 893 East Main Street and can be reached at 631-852-3500.

Homeowners in need of heating assistance can receive Home Energy Assistance Program benefits, including access to fuel and emergency burner repair through the county. Residents who are already signed up can call 631-653-8820 for services. Emergencies after business hours, on weekends and on holidays are handled by the Emergency Services Unit at 631-854-9100.

County officials are encouraging renters to know their rights. Between October 1 and May 31, dwellings must be at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit, day and night, when outside temperatures drop below 55 degrees. Landlords are required by law to provide heating facilities that are properly installed and maintained in each dwelling. Renters in distress can call the Department of Health Temporary Residence Unit at 631-852-5900 for assistance.

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