Cold weather brings dangerous temperatures - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Cold weather brings dangerous temperatures

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

January 14, 2009

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Get ready, the coldest weather of the year is about to be upon us, with dangerous cold temperatures in the teens.

Many will be bundling up or using alternate heat sources to stay warm Friday and Saturday. Last year the Albany Fire Department responded to 93 fires caused by heat related issues.

In the next several days, many in south Georgia will use space heaters similar to this one to keep warm. What many don't realize is this heater can reach temperatures of 600 degrees and easily ignite items nearby. A box top that registers 71 degrees quickly heats up.

"You want to keep things at least three feet away from them. It's amazing the amount of heat these small space heaters will generate," said Albany Fire Safety Instructor Chief Ron Rowe.

Remember that box top. Fire wood suppliers say they're also working overtime to keep the bins full and fill orders, but they, too, caution people using fireplaces to warm their homes.

"Make sure the fire screens are closed, the glass windows if it's not in good condition, make sure your chimney's are clean all of the bird nests and squirrels are not in there, make sure that the air will flow up the chimney good," said Kevin Rogers, of Kevin Rogers Construction.

During Albany's last cold snap, a homeless man died when temperatures in this vacant building dipped enough to aggravate a medical condition. Coroner Emma Quimbley urges those with nowhere to go, to take advantage of the county's services. She's put together flyers, with emergency numbers, and will distribute them to several businesses.

"It's not enough when the temperatures, because when you're looking at the temperatures down in the 20s and the teens and they are in this building made out of concrete and sleeping on the floors you probably have temperatures down around 15 at that point," said Dougherty County Coroner Emma Quimbley.

Remember that box top in front of the space heater, in no time its temperature has climbed 30 degrees.

"It's been sitting here for a couple of minutes and now we're around 105 degrees in less than two minutes. It's not going to catch immediately but the longer it stays there the more heat that's generated toward it and it will catch on fire eventually," said Rowe.

Unfortunately items typically ignite when the homeowner is sleeping or not paying attention to the heater, a situation that could have deadly consequences.

Plunging temperatures not only create a fire hazard for people trying to stay warm, it could mean frozen pipes. Friday and Saturday nights will be the kind of nights where you should cover or protect outside faucets, pipes, and wells.

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