PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — City officials have some reminders and tips for dealing with cold weather, snow, and other wintertime hazards.

City managing director Richard Negrin reminded Philadelphia residents about the 311 call center, available from 8 AM to 8 PM, to report problems or get information.  During storms, he said, there will be extended hours.

A recently passed city ordinance requires homeowners and businesses to shovel a minimum three-foot-wide path on the sidewalk in front of their properties within six hours of a snowstorm.

Negrin (standing behind fire commissioner in photo) also says there are expanded services going into place to keep the homeless safe. There are about 350 beds available at emergency shelters across the city, he said.  If you are concerned about an individual or family member on the street, call Project HOME at 215-232-1984, or call 311.

Fire commisioner Lloyd Ayers (at lectern in photo) also talked about winter safety.

Make sure those indoor or outdoor Christmas lights are UL rated, he said — approved by Underwriters Laboratories, a US government agency.  And make sure any live trees are watered regularly, kept away from heat sources, and located in a spot that does not block a path out of the home.

Recently, with the help of federal funds, the fire department was able to give away 7,000 smoke alarms in neighborhoods that reported the largest number of fire injuries and deaths. Every fire company in the city gave them away during four weekends in November.
The fire department still has smoke alarms available, however. Call 311 if you need one, and they’ll patch you through to the fire department.

So far this year, there have been 31 fire-related deaths in the city.  Last year, Ayers said, the city recorded the lowest ever number: 30.  In six of those, he said, there were delayed alarms.  Commissioner Ayers said they did not “get out and stay out.”  That’s his message: fires are dangerous, so get out as soon as you can and don’t go back into a burning building for any reason.

Reported by Steve Tawa, KYW Newsradio 1060.

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