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Mayor Wu Declares Cold Emergency for Friday through Sunday

The Mayor is sharing safety tips as brutally cold weather is expected ahead of this weekend. BCYF locations will be activated as warming centers on Friday and Saturday.

Update: Due to the extreme cold, Boston Public Schools are closed on Friday, February 3.

Mayor Michelle Wu has declared a cold emergency in the City of Boston for Friday, February 3 through Sunday, February 5 due to the extreme cold weather that is forecasted for this time period. Boston is forecasted to experience wind chills below zero on Friday, February 3 and Saturday, February 4. BCYF locations will be activated as warming centers on Friday and Saturday.  

“Boston is moving quickly to ensure that everyone is protected from the intense cold weather that will start Friday and last through the weekend. I want to thank the many city teams who have already begun preparations and will be responding to this weekend’s brutal cold weather,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “I urge all Boston residents to take precautions, stay warm and safe, and check on your neighbors during this cold emergency.”

Wind chill values will begin dropping Friday night. On Friday, the wind chill is predicted to be as low as -21 degrees Fahrenheit, with the cold air staying through Sunday. On Saturday, the wind chill is predicted to be -27 degrees Fahreinheit, the lowest temperature this weekend. Due to the low temperatures and strong wind gusts, there is an increased risk for hypothermia and frostbite for certain populations, such as those experiencing homelessness, the elderly, and young children. Cold weather may also exacerbate health issues in high-risk populations.

The current City of Boston cold emergency threshold is 1 day or more of -10°F or below observed wind chill. Additionally, the current City of Boston cold advisory threshold is one day or more of 0°F or below observed wind chill.

Mayor Wu is advising all residents to take precautions, including reminding them to check in on older adults, people with disabilities and people experiencing homelessness. If you see people experiencing homelessness out in the cold, please call 911. If residents are aware of anyone staying in a vehicle or a place not intended for living during these extreme cold temperatures, they are encouraged to call 911 as well. 

Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF) will activate warming centers at community centers during their normal operating hours. A full list of locations and their hours can be found here.

Residents can visit the Boston Public Library Central or branch locations during their normal operating hours.

The Southampton Street Shelter for men over 18 years of age and Woods Mullen Shelter for women over 18 years of age are open 24/7. Amnesty is in effect and anyone with a non-violent restriction may come in. Pine Street Inn’s mobile outreach vehicles will also be out on the street with extended hours. 

The Engagement Center on Atkinson Street will be open with expanded hours from 6am to 7pm. Outreach workers have been engaging with unhoused people in the area of Mass and Cass to inform them of the upcoming cold weather and of resources they can access.

The Boston Police Department (BPD) is making announcements on every shift reminding officers and all personnel to be on the lookout for people on the streets. BPD will conduct wellness checks or assist with transportation to available shelters and coordinate with emergency medical personnel for unsheltered individuals. The BPD Street Outreach Unit will be available as a resource to assist the districts, outreach providers and 911 dispatch as needed. They will also be passing out gloves, hats, jackets, and hand warmers.


Dress for the weather:

  • Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing.
  • Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
  • Wear mittens over gloves; layering works for your hands as well.
  • Always wear a hat and cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.  
  • Dress children warmly and set reasonable time limits on outdoor play.
  • Restrict infants' outdoor exposure when it is colder than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Watch for signs of frostbite:

  • Signs of frostbite include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.

Watch for signs of hypothermia:

  • These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. If you or someone you know shows any of these symptoms, contact a healthcare provider immediately. If symptoms are severe, call 911.

Heating guidelines for property owners and tenants:

  • In accordance with the Massachusetts State Sanitary Code, the heating season officially begins on September 15 and runs through June 15. Property owners must heat habitable spaces at a minimum temperature of 68 degrees between 7 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. and 64 degrees between 11:01 p.m. and 6:59 a.m.
  • In case of emergency, property owners are encouraged to keep a list of licensed contractors (electrician, plumber and general contractor) on file. Tenants experiencing problems with their heating system should check the thermostat, ensure the dial is turned on, and report insufficient or no heat problems to the property owner or manager immediately.
  • If your landlord or property manager is unresponsive, call 311 to file a complaint.

Heating safety:

  • Never heat your home using charcoal or gas grill, oven, or other products not specifically designed as a heater. These can cause a fire or produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide very quickly. 
  • Have your heating system cleaned and checked annually.
  • Install and maintain smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home. Carbon monoxide is an invisible gas produced whenever any fuel is burned. Common sources include oil or gas furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces, stoves, and some space heaters. It has no smell, taste, or color. It is poisonous and can be deadly.
  • Carbon monoxide symptoms can be similar to other illnesses, including headache, dizziness, and weakness. If multiple people within a residence experience sudden onset of such symptoms, that can be a warning sign of possible carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Keep space heaters at least 3 feet from anything that can burn, including people.
  • Space heaters should be turned off and unplugged when you leave the room, or go to bed.

Tips to keep water flowing and pipes unfrozen during extreme cold:

  • The Boston Water and Sewer Commission recommends homeowners locate a home's main water shut off valve, and learn how to use it. Should a frozen pipe burst, shutting the main valve quickly will minimize flooding and property damage.
  • Homeowners should insulate pipes in unheated areas like basements, garages and crawl spaces. Use inexpensive hardware store materials to prevent pipes from freezing and to keep warm water flowing.
  • Circulate warm air around pipes by keeping cabinet doors open. Circulate a trickle of tap water through pipes during extreme cold to help prevent them freezing up.
  • Locate your water meter, protect it from drafts, and make sure basement doors and windows are shut tight.
  • If pipes freeze, slowly thaw them with a hair dryer, if possible. Never use an open flame to thaw pipes. If water is lost in all taps, call BWSC 24-hour Emergency Assistance Line at 617-989-7900  

Emergency home repair resources: 


  • Income-eligible homeowners and Boston's residents over age 60 can receive assistance with winter emergencies and repairs, such as fixing storm damage, leaking roofs, furnaces and leaking/frozen pipes. For assistance, residents should call the Mayor's hotline at 311 or the Boston Home Center at 617-635-HOME (4663).   
  • In addition, the Mayor's Seniors Save program helps income eligible Bostonians over the age of 60 replace old, inefficient heating systems with a brand new heating system, even before a failure occurs during the cold winter months. Older adults can also call 311 or the Boston Home Center at 617-635-HOME (4663) to be connected with a City staffer to provide additional details.   

For alerts, including cold-weather alerts, residents are encouraged to sign up for Alert Boston. For more information, please visit the Winter in Boston guide and follow @CityofBoston on Twitter.

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