TRENTON, N.J. -Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes is reminding residents today to take precautions against the severe winter weather expected in the region.
"Our first extreme cold snap of the year is expected to hit tonight into tomorrow, and it is imperative that people take the necessary steps to stay warm," said Hughes. "I urge everyone to use common sense, and to check up on friends and loved ones who may be more sensitive to the bitter cold."
For emergencies related to the cold weather, Mercer County residents should call 911 immediately. Residents should avoid being outside for extended amounts of time if possible.
Hughes said people should check on children, elderly neighbors, family members, or any potentially at-risk individuals often to make certain they have functioning heating systems in their homes and cars. Also, it is crucial that anyone going outside, even for a brief time, dress warmly in layers, Hughes said.
It is recommended that residences maintain a temperature of approximately 68 degrees and that portable gas or propane heaters, which can be fire hazards, be used only in emergency situations.
County residents who meet income eligibility requirements may also qualify for heating assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Residents who qualify can sign up for assistance anytime through March 31, and those who are 60 or over or disabled can receive applications by mail. To find out more information, Mercer County residents can call the Division of Housing at (609) 989-6959, or visit www.energyassistance.nj.gov.
Tenants or homeowners with heating issues are urged to call their landlord or public utility provider for assistance. Information about utility companies and service maps is available on the state Board of Public Utility Web site at www.nj.gov/bpu/home/custAssistance.shtml.
"I encourage anyone who has inadequate heating to contact the utility provider or to find out if he or she is eligible for LIHEAP assistance as soon as possible," Hughes said.
Residents should also adhere to the following advice from the state Department of Health and Senior Services:
- Dress in layers while outdoors, including a hat and gloves. If you get wet from heavy sweating, rain, or snow, change into dry clothes as soon as possible.
- Eat well and drink plenty of fluids. Avoid drinking alcohol because it can accelerate loss of body heat.
- Many cold-weather injuries are the result of falls from icy surfaces. If possible, use rock salt or chemical de-icer to keep sidewalks, walkways, and porches free of ice.
- Stock your car with emergency gear, including: a cell phone; jumper cables; flashlight; blanket; sand for extra traction; ice scraper and a small shovel; and flares or other warning devices. For longer trips in a vehicle, pack extra food and water, blankets, and any required medications.