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Cold weather, tough times and practical tips

NORWALK, Conn. — Some Norwalk announcements for you:

  • City issues cold weather safety tips
  • Help needy local residents on Valentine’s Day
  • Norwalk small business grants available
  • Check your power usage
  • A warning from Consumer Protection

 

Brrr!

The City is advising you to take common-sense steps to protect your health and safety as arctic temperatures impact Norwalk through the weekend, setting the stage for a potential winter storm early next week.

A press release said:

Mayor Rilling has opened the Community Room at the Norwalk Police Department to act as a warming center. Residents must wear a well-fitting mask or face covering (two or more layers) over their nose and mouth and secure it under their chin. Those at the Community Room must also physically distance by maintaining a space of at least six feet between themselves and those not from the same household. Other options for warming spaces include visiting friends or family, a movie theater or shopping mall. Please continue to follow all COVID-19 protocols. Here are additional safety tips:

Outdoors:

  • If you must go outside, make it as brief as possible. Dress warmly in windproof clothing and go indoors when you begin to feel cold. Wear several layers of loose-fitting clothing to trap body heat. Fasten buttons or zippers and tighten drawstrings securely. Don’t forget gloves, mittens, and a hat that covers the ears.
  • Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat.
  • If you are spending time outside, do not ignore shivering – it is a vital first sign that your body is losing heat and a signal to return indoors quickly.
  • Older adults are especially susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite. People who have older relatives or neighbors should keep an eye on them during the cold winter months.
  • If it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside. If left outdoors, pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, or injured. In addition, don’t leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze.

 

Indoors:

  • Stay indoors and dress warmly.
  • If you need to use an alternate heating source such as a fireplace or wood-burning stove, be sure to have adequate ventilation to the outside. Without enough fresh air, carbon monoxide fumes can build up in your home and cause sickness or even death. Keep children away from all heaters to avoid accidental burns. Never use a stove or fireplace unless it is properly installed and vented.
  • Never use a natural gas or propane stove/oven or charcoal grill to heat your home.
  • Space heaters account for 43% of home heating fires. Make sure your space heater is at least three feet away from materials that can easily catch fire such as furniture, bedding and curtains. Never leave an electric space heater unattended while it is operating. Make sure your heater is placed on a level surface where pets and children cannot reach it.

 

Older adults, infants, and young children, and people with disabilities are especially at risk from the cold. If you have at-risk friends, neighbors, or relatives, check in on them periodically while following COVID-19 public health safety precautions. Consider connecting with family and friends by telephone, e-mail, text messages, video chat, and social media.

For additional winter weather safety tips visit ready.gov, redcross.org and nfpa.org.

 

 

$5K for your small business?

Norwalk businesses with no more than 25 employees can apply for one of 30 grants of $5,000 being offered under the City’s new COVID-19 Small Business Assistance Program, according to a press release.  Recipients will be picked in a random drawing conducted live on Zoom by Mayor Harry Rilling during the week of Feb. 15.

The grant must be used for COVID-related expenses.  Examples of allowable expenses, along with full program details are here.

Application deadline is noon Tuesday, Feb. 9.  The application form is here.

Questions should be addressed to Sabrina Church, Director of Business Development and Tourism at [email protected] or (203) 939-2202.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted our business community. There has been limited grant funding opportunities available, and I felt it was important that we provide more assistance to our local small businesses. I know this is not a significant amount money, but in talking with local businesses, I have heard that anything we can do will be of help,” Rilling is quoted as saying. “Norwalk has a robust and vibrant business community, and I am hopeful these grants will help our small businesses continue to navigate through this pandemic. Clearly, more support is needed from the federal government, but I hope these grants will be a bridge to more significant help. I encourage our business community to submit an application for this grant program.”

 

Show the love

A contactless food drive sponsored by Quakers (Religious Society of Friends) is planned for noon-2 p.m on Valentine’s Day, Sunday Feb. 14, at the Quaker Meeting House property, located at 317 New Canaan Road in Wilton, according to a press release.  Just drive onto the property, and volunteers wearing masks and observing distancing protocol will remove the donated items from your car.  The donations will be given to Homes with Hope, a local food pantry and homeless shelter where lunches and dinners are served to the needy. Requested items, guidelines, and other info are at Homes-with-Hope-Information-to-Start-a-Drive-or-Collection.pdf (hwhct.org).

 

Saving Watts

(Courtesy photo)

An Eversource press release states availability of several energy-saving tools:

The “Kill A Watt” kit which measures the amount of electricity used by your household devices can be borrowed from nearly 200 Connecticut libraries including Norwalk’s.  When you plug a TV, refrigerator, hair dryer or whatever into the kit’s “Kill A Watt” meter, the meter’s screen displays power usage.  An accompanying booklet explains usage measurement and gives energy reduction strategies.  Libraries having the kits are listed at Learn About Energy Efficiency (eversource.com)

An interactive heating cost calculator at Heating Cost Calculator (eversource.com) estimates daily and yearly heating costs based on info you input.

“Green Button “Green Button (eversource.com) enables a download of 13 months’ energy use data for sharing with energy efficiency experts when planning home improvements.  Zip code and Eversource account number are needed.

More Eversource info is at Energy Saving Tips|CT Resident Energy Efficiency|Eversource

 

Avoid illegal surcharges

Businesses are forbidden to charge consumers extra for paying by credit card, according to a press release from the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection. While stores, restaurants, service providers, etc. can legally offer a discount for using a preferred payment method, they can’t legally add a surcharge to the item or service’s stated price.

“Consumers may not realize that they cannot be charged extra simply for using their credit card,” Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull said. “Watch out for these unlawful charges, and avoid paying them before it’s too late.”

“So-called convenience fees may be common, but they are not legal in Connecticut,” Attorney General William Tong said.  “Businesses may offer cash discounts, but they cannot tack on extra fees for using a credit card. Know your rights, and don’t pay more than you should.”

If a “transaction fee,” “processing fee,” or “convenience fee” looks to be an unlawful surcharge, you’re better off discussing the issue before paying.  Consumers who think that a particular business is illegally surcharging its customers are urged to contact the Attorney General’s office at  [email protected] , (860) 808-5000, or the Department of Consumer Protection  [email protected]

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