January 7, 2015

Temperatures are plummeting to dangerous levels in New York City this week. Forecasters predict tonight will drop to a low of 9 degrees with wind chill registering between -5 and -10 degrees, and temperatures will continue to fall below freezing through the weekend.

All of our meal recipients received an Emergency Food Package containing twelve shelf-stable meals in the fall, so their shelves are stocked for the winter. We will continue to prepare vulnerable older New Yorkers for the next weather emergency but we are asking for your help. It takes just moments to check on your frail aged neighbors, many of whom are not mobile or healthy enough to take the proper precautions for severe winter weather.

Citymeals recommends:

  • Check to make sure your elderly neighbors have food essentials on hand, including milk, bread, soup and a source of protein.
  • Make sure their heat is on.
  • If they use any space heaters, make sure there are no potential fire hazards, such as blankets, curtains or upholstered furniture, in close proximity.
  • Ask if there is sufficient hot water for bathing.
  • Make certain they have blankets to keep warm at night.

In addition, two of the most common cold weather illnesses are hypothermia and frostbite. Familiarize yourself with their symptoms:

Hypothermia: Symptoms include slurred speech, sluggishness, confusion, dizziness, shallow breathing, unusual behavior, and slow, irregular heartbeat.

Frostbite: Symptoms include gray, white or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, and waxy feeling skin.

If an older person exhibits these symptoms, or if confusion sets in, experts advise calling 911 for help immediately. For more information about winter weather precautions for the elderly, visit the New York City Office of Emergency Management website.