Be warm…be safe

Published 9:35 am Thursday, February 11, 2010

If the groundhog’s prediction was correct on Feb. 2, we are in for six more weeks of winter.

Judging by the snow, ice and bone-chilling temperatures as witnessed recently in the Roanoke-Chowan area, that fuzzy little creature that spends most of the time burrowed underground may be right.

This winter has been extremely cold and wet by normal standards. Under normal circumstances, most folks in northeastern North Carolina do not feel much of a change in the weather between the fall and spring seasons.

2010 has broken the mold on that notion.

The colder-than-normal thermometer readings have led local residents to crank-up the heating sources within their homes. Unfortunately, some of those residents have aging or inadequate heating systems. That fact has produced several residential fires in recent weeks, one that proved fatal in Woodland on Jan. 31.

According to the American Red Cross, there are safe and practical ways to heat a home during the winter months. Following these tips can greatly reduce the threat of fire:

All heaters need space. Keep things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least three feet away from heating equipment, fireplaces and stoves.

Place portable space heaters on a hard, level, nonflammable surface. Do not put space heaters on rugs or carpets, near bedding or drapes, and keep children and pets away. Look for a model that shuts off automatically if the space heater tips over. Do not use heating equipment to dry wet clothing.

Never use the stove or oven to heat your home.

Never leave portable heaters, wood burning stoves or fireplaces unattended. Turn them off before leaving or going to bed.

Keep the fire in the fireplace by using a glass or metal screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.

Hopefully, the weather will soon take a turn for the better, but until then, be safe!