Preventable Problems: Firefighters offer tips to avoid trouble in winter weather

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MARYLAND HEIGHTS, MO - As the temperatures hover in the single digits, firefighters say now is a good time to stay on top of winter weather safety.

Maryland Heights Fire Protection District Captain Robert Daus said staying alert to road and weather conditions is critical.

Also critical, he says, is making sure your home, car, and vehicle are properly equipped.

Motor vehicle accidents are the number one call crews respond to during extremely cold weather.  Many drivers, Daus said, run into trouble and are not prepared to stand in the cold.

“You see people out there that are shivering because you catch them in their work commute. They’re just not prepared to be outside,” Daus said. “A heavy coat. Some wool socks, a pair of boots. Put them in a duffel bag, throw them in the car. If you get in an accident, put them on because you’re going to be outside your car dealing with things.”

Several preventable problems occur at home.

The National Fire Protection Association reports that space heaters accounted for four out of five home heating fire deaths, based on figures from 2011-2015.

Daus said space heaters should never be left unattended and should be kept a safe distance from animals, children, and furniture. Space heaters should be plugged directly into the outlet, and not via an extension cord.

Warming up vehicles presents another potential danger, if not handled properly. Never leave a car with the engine running in the garage, Daus said.

“Even with the garage door open, the carbon monoxide can pull into the house. You want to pull your car out of the garage. Close the garage door, if you’re going to be warming your car up. That’s going to be the best protection for keeping the carbon monoxide out,” he said.

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