Guest Editorial: Safety urged in our extreme cold weather

North Carolina

Southeast / North Carolina 3 Views

Forgive us for being preachy, but with the extreme cold weather and numerous reports of fires, it seems we should share some information that – who knows – might save a life.

Let’s face it: our homes, schools, plumbing, wardrobes – nor much of anything else – are suited for temperatures in the teens.

Foremost, we urge you to regularly check on vulnerable family, friends or neighbors – especially the elderly – who could be at risk from the extreme cold. We hope folks will ensure pets are out of the dangerous cold, too. And we speak from experience on this one _ do what you can to keep pipes from freezing. There’s nothing quite like waking up to water coming through ceiling light fixtures after pipes in the attic froze and ruptured. True story.

Frozen pipes are a headache. Fire, on the other hand, is deadly. Whether unsafe heating sources, candles after a power failure, or food left cooking on a stove, cold weather brings with it an increased risk of fire. According to FEMA and the National Fire Incident Reporting System:

*Home fires occur more in winter than in any other season.

*Half of all home heating fires occur December-February.

*Heating equipment is involved in 1 in 7 home fires and 1 in 5 home fire deaths.

*Cooking is the leading cause of all wintertime home fires.

*A heat source too close to combustibles is the leading factor contributing to the start of a winter home fire (15 percent).

*5 p.m. to 8 p.m. is the most common time period for winter home fires.

Some of FEMA’s prevention tips seem like common sense – Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, wood stoves and space heaters. Plug only one heat-producing appliance into an electrical outlet.

The problem is, while these are indeed common-sense tips, such extreme cold conditions are fairly uncommon here, so extra care and attention are probably worthwhile.

It’s a cold start to 2018. Here’s to staying good and warm – and good and safe.

Star News of Wilmington

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