Think safety in extreme cold

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The extremely cold weather in recent weeks is soon expected to return. This fact, and and house fires in our area, suggest we should share some information that -- who knows -- might save a life.

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.

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 the Federal Emergency Management Agency (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).

-- 5-8 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 three 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 an extremely long cold spell is a bit unusual even for us.

Meanwhile, it’s a cold start to 2018. Here’s to staying good and warm -- and good and safe.

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