This week's weather reminded residents there are greater dangers hidden in the cold, snow and ice than a dinged bumper or frozen fingertips. Measures taken to protect from the bitter cold require preparation and vigilance in order to avoid a greater disaster.
As Parkersburg Fire Department Capt. Tim Flinn explained, heat sources can be a double threat without proper precautions. Wood stoves, electric heaters and other alternatives can be sources of poisonous carbon monoxide and spark fires if not properly attended. If your home does not already have carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, get them. If you have already got them, check them. You will not smell gas if carbon monoxide is building up in your home. In fact, you will not notice anything until headaches, nausea, shortness of breath and other symptoms begin to set in. According to Flinn, there has been an increase in calls to the department for carbon monoxide alarms. Make sure yours is serving you just as well.
Meanwhile, the folks at Sandy Creek Farms found out Monday how quickly a fire can spread and get out of control. A working smoke detector could give you and your family the extra few moments needed to be safe, especially in a season when the weather is making firefighters' jobs much more difficult.
Treacherous road conditions make it harder for firetrucks to get to the scene of a fire and be effective. Once on the scene, firefighters can be hindered by deep snow and ice. Water can freeze in the hoses. And crews can be stretched thin as assistance calls increase.
"It affects our mobility more than anything, and sometimes our response time can be hampered by locating fire hydrants," Flinn said.
Winter might be with us for another six week, if a groundhog can be trusted with such matters. There is a good deal time left for residents to be mindful of a few extra steps to take in order to stay safe. Shovel and salt those sidewalks, take precautions when driving - or do not drive at all - and make certain the carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in your home are installed and working properly. They could make a world of difference.