Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Baby, it’s COLD outside!

Community Board
News N’ Views

By Father Richard F. Gorman
Community Board #12 (The Bronx)

“So very nice
 I’ll hold your hands; they’re just like ice.
Baby, it’s cold outside!”

BRONX, NEW YORK, JANUARY 8- Whether sung by Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Vanessa Williams, or Lady Antebellum, these lyrics from the song “BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE!” ring all so true as I pen this initial column for the New Year of Our Lord 2014. The weather has been extreme, to say the least, more characteristic of a polar ice cap region at either the top or the bottom of the Earth rather than the City of New York. Hopefully, the current climatic conditions are merely the appetizer, and not the main course, of what Old Man Winter is serving up for us this season!

Frigid temperatures, snow and ice storms, and slippery streets aside, there are many “warm” circumstances that have bestowed more temperate moments upon us in the first two weeks of our New Year. We have a new Municipal Administration in place at City Hall headed by the City of New York’s 109TH Mayor, The Honorable Bill de Blasio, the first Democrat to hold this office in two decades. He is accompanied at the helm of Municipal Government by our new Comptroller, The Honorable Scott M. Stringer, whose roots are in our very own Borough of The Bronx, and by the first African-American woman ever to be elected to citywide office, Public Advocate for the City of New York Letitia A. “Tish” James. While one of our City Council representatives, The Honorable Andy Cohen, was able to have his public inauguration at Lehman College on Sunday afternoon, 5 January 2014, our other Council Member, The Honorable Andy L. King, had to give way to our opening snow blast of 2014 and postpone his formal taking of the oath of office until Sunday, 12 January 2014. We shall be keeping our fingers crossed that only welcome guests, and not Old Man Winter or Mister Snowman, show up for Council Member King’s happy occasion. By the time that you read this column, the swearing-in of The Honorable Ruben Diaz, Jr. as the Borough President of The Bronx will take place as scheduled and, please God, in slightly warmer environs on Thursday, 9 January 2014.

The sort of extreme weather that has been thrust upon us always
presents challenges, not the least of which is to be faithful to God’s commandment that we be our neighbor’s keeper. There are any number of safety steps that a responsible neighbor should keep in mind and practice, not only in self-interest, but in that of those with whom we share this planet and that portion of it that we know and love so well --  i.e., the Borough of The Bronx. Among them are the following:

GUARD AGAINST FROSTBITE: With wind chills thrusting us into sub-zero degree air temperatures, exposed skin can get frostbitten in minutes and hypothermia is a major threat. Wear mittens instead of gloves, particularly those made of leather; dress in layers of warm clothing; and anyone who becomes wet should retreat indoors immediately. Unless absolutely essential, stay home and, for those venturing into the frigid outdoors, be certain that all body parts are well covered and protected.

CHECK THE CAR BATTERY: Batteries three years of age or older may not be able to get one’s motor vehicle started or to be “jumped” after being exposed to temperatures below zero degrees Fahrenheit (0ºF) for an extended period of time.

TURN DOWN THE THERMOSTAT: Keeping one’s residential thermostat relatively low at sixty-eight degrees Fahrenheit (68ºF) saves money on one’s heating bills as well as helps to prevent a power shortage and/or blackout.

BE CAUTIOUS IN UTILIZING SUPPLEMENTAL HEATING DEVICES: Space heaters, stoves, ovens, and kerosene or propane heaters that should only be employed outdoors are an all-too-common cause of carbon monoxide poising or even death and are the origin of approximately 50,000 residential fires and some 150 fatalities per annum.

PROTECT WATER PIPES: Freezing water that expands in pipes causes the pipes to burst so pay heed to any pipes that are exposed to low temperatures (such as those in basements, attics, garages, or crawl spaces) and lines for outdoor sprinklers and swimming pools.

CHECK ON ELDERLY, INFIRM, AND CHALLENGED NEIGHBORS: Do not neglect to make certain that these most dependent of God’s Children are warm, safe, nourished, and in adequate supply of food and water.

Space and the attention span of you, dear readers and friends, prevent me from sharing some thoughts about handling snowfall and the regrettable and somewhat selfish habits and practices of too many of our neighborhood residents with respect thereto. So that they are not lost, especially on those guilty of making use of them, I shall turn attention to them the next time we meet. Suffice it to say in the meanwhile, though, that my good Friend, Commissioner of Sanitation John J. Doherty, and his team did their usual bang-up job of getting our streets salted and cleared of snow last week. Commissioner Doherty has been asked to remain for the time being at the helm of the New York City Department of Sanitation (N.Y.C.D.O.S.) and, if he is willing and Mayor De Blasio so determines, it would be a blessing to see this life-long public servant in N.Y.C.D.O.S. remain behind his desk at 125 Worth Street in Manhattan.

May God bless us all with a Healthy and Peaceful 2014!

Until next time, that is it for this time!

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