"Brrr" is the word heard most often on the streets of West Hartford this week as temperatures have plunged to sub-freezing levels. Brisk winds have created below zero wind chills.
The long range forecast from the National Weather Service doesn't predict much of a warming trend until early next week.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy issued a news release Tuesday, indicating that the state's "Severe Weather Protocol" has been activated. That action directs the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS), the Department of Social Services (DSS) and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) to coordinate with 2-1-1 and Connecticut’s network of shelters to ensure that the state’s most vulnerable people are protected.
“The 2-1-1 system provides an incredibly important service to the people of Connecticut and I encourage everyone to take advantage of the help that is available to them. I am also encouraging local communities to consider opening warming centers or other facilities to help people in need,” Malloy said in the release.
West Hartford does not have a warming center, but the town's libraries are open during daytime hours for residents who need a place to warm up.
The West Hartford Police said they have not received any calls in the past few days from residents with problems related to the cold weather, and indicated that those calls are typically referred to the Department of Human Services unless it is an emergency.
The Town of West Hartford, through the Department of Human Services, has programs in place to assist residents who may not have sufficient funds to pay heating costs during the winter months. Information on the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) can be found on the town's website.
On a statewide level, DSS coordinates with 2-1-1 and the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, as well as working with existing vendors to resolve transportation issues for people needing shelter during the period of severe cold.
United Illuminating issued a release Wednesday warning its customers to continue to follow standard safety protocols and not to attempt to heat their homes with kitchen appliances. They company also provided a link to safety information related to space heaters issud by the Consumer Product Safety Council http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2010/11/space-heater-safety.
United Illuminating also advised people to check their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure that they are in working order. "Carbon monoxide (CO) is odorless, colorless and tasteless, but toxic — the product of incomplete combustion, which can result from a furnace or space heater problem. Symptoms of CO poisoning mimic the flu, so make sure the CO detector is in working order," stated the release.