City of Asheville offers tips to staying safe during winter storms

Courtesy of Citizens-Times - http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20110111/NEWS/301110053

ASHEVILLE — The City of Asheville sent out this news release.

Already this winter, multiple snowstorms have hit Asheville and Western North Carolina, and the city’s public works department has been hard at work to keep roads passable and clear, while the Asheville police and fire departments continue to keep people safe.

With a major winter storm forecast for the area Sunday night through early Tuesday, the city of Asheville is urging the public to remain safe and cautious, and has issued tips for safety at home and on the road.

During and immediately after weather events, drivers are strongly encouraged limit travel until crews have cleared roads. When travel is essential during winter weather, warm coats, clothes, hats, gloves and boots should be worn.  Other items to take when traveling include a mobile phone, extra food, water, a flashlight and blankets.

The American Red Cross also advises keeping a full gas tank to prevent the fuel line from freezing, and informing people when you are traveling. If you do get stuck, the Red Cross advises staying with your car, as a vehicle is easier to spot than a person.

The Asheville fire department has also issued information about home heating during cold weather, noting that heat sources are the second leading cause of home fires.  Asheville Fire Department Public Information Officer Kelley Webb shares, “Citizens should be aware of the risks associated with using alternative heating sources such as wood burning stoves, space heaters and fireplaces. Improper maintenance is a major cause of fire for these sources.”

Here are safety tips for using alternative heating sources:

• Maintain a 3 foot space around heating sources.

• Only use heating equipment that has a UL label.

• Always use the proper fuel for fuel burning equipment and refuel units outdoors. Be sure area is well vented to avoid CO buildup.

• Be sure heaters are on a sturdy surface and clear from traffic, kids and pets.

• Turn heaters off when leaving the house or going to bed.

• Carbon monoxide poisoning is another danger to consider. The Asheville Fire Department recommends that each home not only has a working smoke alarm, but a carbon monoxide detector as well.

For more information on how to be safe with alternate heating sources visit www.nfpa.org.

For information on emergency preparedness, including loss of heat, visit www.ready.gov.  For information on heating assistance residents should call 2-1-1, the local community service information line.

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