Skip to main content

Extreme Cold Safety & Tips


Español      Portugues      Kreyol Ayisyen      नेपाली      繁體中文      简体中文


Be Prepared

Please review the following important information in preparation for a snowstorm or extremely cold weather:

  1. Check on neighbors in need before, during, and after storms! If you have neighbors who are elderly, have a disability, or are otherwise unable to navigate cold and winter weather, please check in and make sure that they are safe,  healthy, and have food and resources to weather any storms. In particular, be aware that when temperatures have been extremely cold, your neighbors in need may not have been able to make it outdoors and to the grocery store or to pick up necessary medications and supplies.
  2. Prepare before storms for a potential snow and cold. Make sure you have food and water to last several days. Check your heating systems, and make sure to leave the heat set to at least 60 degrees to prevent pipes from freezing. It also helps to keep faucets dripping to prevent frozen pipes if temperatures go below 20 degrees. Finally, review Somerville’s snow emergency policies in advance at
  3. Prepare to shovel…safely! Be reminded that the City of Somerville requires that sidewalks abutting your property must be shoveled within 6 daylight hours of the end of any snowfall to ensure safe passage for others. Unshoveled snow can quickly harden into solid ice. This makes for difficult conditions, but clearing sidewalks is of the utmost importance to prevent hazards to others including our school children. So please make sure you have sufficiently warm clothing and snow clearing supplies ahead of a storm. When shoveling, please take the following precautions into consideration:
    • Shovel in SHORT segments. Do not attempt to shovel everything all at once. Rather, in extreme cold remain outside only for a few minutes at a time. Even when temperatures are more comfortable, be sure to take breaks.
    • When you are outdoors, make sure you are dressed in several layers, including hats, gloves/mittens, and warm socks and a scarf to cover your face. Please avoid leaving any skin, including your face, exposed in extreme cold.
  4. Keep this contact information on hand: If you have non-emergency questions or concerns, you can contact 311 at any time of the day or night, in any of the following ways:

If you have an emergency issue, always call 911.

Safety Tips

  • Stay dry and change clothing if it gets wet.
  • Dress in layers, and cover as much exposed skin as possible.
  • Drink warm liquids and water to stay hydrated.
  • Avoid getting gasoline or alcohol on your skin while de-icing and fueling your car or using a snowblower. These materials in contact with the skin greatly increase heat loss from the body.
  • Know where your electricity, gas, and water switches and valves are located and how to shut them off. You may need to turn off water pipes if your pipes freeze or burst. If possible, consider having a safe backup like a fireplace, wood stove, or space heater in case your heat goes out.
  • Check that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working and have fresh batteries. (Learn more about carbon monoxide safety here)
  • Make sure your vehicle’s gas tank is at least half full and pack an emergency kit that includes blankets and/or warm clothing.
  • Minimize time outside, even for pets.
  • Follow all safety precautions if using space heaters and DO NOT use a stove or oven as a heat source.
    • If using an extension cord for a space heater, make sure it is rated for the appliance.
    • Do not use space heaters as a primary heat source.
    • Make sure space heaters are turned off when you go to bed or leave the house.
    • Keep anything that could burn at least three feet from space heaters. Keep in mind that drying Christmas trees can pose a fire hazard and space heaters should not be used near them.
  • If your pipes freeze, remove any insulation, pour hot water over them or wrap them with towels soaked in hot water, and completely open all faucets. You can also use a hairdryer, with caution, to thaw pipes. Never use an open flame to thaw pipes. If you cannot locate or resolve a frozen pipe, call a licensed plumber.
  • Watch for signs of cold-related health concerns like frostbite and hypothermia and call 911 immediately for any emergencies.

Important Note for Parents

As a reminder, please ensure that students come to school dressed in warm clothing such as a winter jacket, hats, gloves, and warm boots. We encourage you to talk to school administrators or your SFLC Family Liaison if you need support in getting any of these items. The safety and health of our students is our top priority and we want to ensure that students are properly dressed in the cold weather for walking to and from school and for outside recess if the weather permits.

More Information

You can also find more information at

For information about community resources such as fuel and heating assistance, shelters, and more, view this list compiled by the Somerville Council on Aging.

Snow Emergencies

Safety Tips & Info



Programs & Initiatives

An overview of how the budget process works and how it impacts residents and businesses in Somerville.
The City of Somerville has career opportunities for a diverse range of professionals and skill sets to reflect the culturally rich community we serve daily.

Please submit website feedback using this form. Be sure to include:

A description of the issue (if any)
A link to the affected pages

Thank you for your feedback!