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Friday, July 25, 2014
Southwest Louisiana ,
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Fire department issues cold weather safety checklist

Last Modified: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 9:02 PM

By Johnathan Manning / American Press

“Use your head” both when finding ways to keep warm and when preparing Christmas decorations, a local fire chief said.

Keith Murray, Lake Charles fire chief, said his unit receives the most calls at two peak times each year — during times of extreme heat and during times of extreme cold.

That’s because residents overtax their heating and cooling units trying to keep a comfortable temperature.

“Have your heater checked out,” Murray said. “Don’t just turn it on after it’s been sitting all year. Make sure everything is fine.”

He said he’s seen people bring lighted barbecue pits inside the house.

“When it gets supercold in our area, a lot of people want to stay warm. That’s when people do things that are so crazy,” Murray said.

If a heater is struggling to heat a house, close vents and heat a smaller part of the home, Murray said.

He said it’s also important to have fireplaces that have been sitting all year checked out before use. Most of today’s fireplaces aren’t built to heat homes.

With the Christmas holidays fast approaching, Murray also has pointers for trees and lights.

He recommends artificial trees because “it’s almost impossible to keep a live tree fresh all the way through.”

Murray said live trees must be kept watered regularly, and he recommended that plant food, such as Miracle-Gro, be put in the water.

He also recommended cutting off the bottom of the tree more than once so that a build-up of sap won’t keep the tree from absorbing water.

He recommended LED Christmas lights because they don’t use a lot of electricity or generate much heat.

Once again, check old Christmas lights before using them, he said, and don’t string too many lights together.

He said it’s “astounding” how quickly a tree can go up in flames and how much heat it can produce.

If a fire starts in the home, get out — “smoke kills more people than fires do” — and call emergency services because “the faster we get to your house the better chance we have, not only of saving people, but of saving your house,” Murray said.

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