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Safe and warm: Officials offer tips for dealing with extreme cold

Nick Shepherd • Jan 7, 2014 at 8:33 AM

Staying warm is priority number one with frigid temperatures hitting the region.

Whether in a house or apartment, heaters will be on, and there are some tips for staying safe in the frigid temperatures.

According to Kingsport Fire Department Public Information Officer Barry Brickey, if you are using an auxiliary heater, you need to make sure the heater is in good working order and that nothing within 3 feet of the heater is combustible. He also said residents should keep children and pets away from any heater.

If you are using a fireplace, make sure it is clean and always use a fireplace screen. If you are using a kerosene heater, never refill it while it is still hot.

Brickey also recommended checking smoke alarms and said you should never use an oven to heat your house.

For those who may not have access to a heater or could even be sleeping outside, the extreme cold creates a need for everyone to seek shelter inside.

The American Red Cross did not have any shelters open late Monday, but Glenda Bobalik, executive director of the Kingsport Red Cross, said officials are monitoring the situation.

“We are working with emergency management and just determining what the needs are,” she said.

The Red Cross would open a shelter if the power goes out or if there is a need for more shelters.

If you know of someone who is in need of shelter during the frigid temperatures, you can contact the Salvation Army.

Appalachian Power is asking its customers to be prepared in case of a power outage. According to a press release, Appalachian Power officials said their system could handle higher demand and they did not expect any outages.

They offered some tips for people in case they do lose power. Some of those tips include turning off electrical appliances until 10 to 30 minutes after power has been restored. Also, have an emergency kit with flashlights, candles, matches, a portable heater and canned goods.

If you experience a power outage, you can contact customer service in Tennessee at 1-800-967-4237 or in Virginia at 1-800-956-4237. Customers can also report power outages online at www.AppalachianPower.com.

Bobalik, Appalachian Power and Brickey all said to cover up and not venture outside unless really necessary. Prolonged exposure to the extreme cold can lead to frostbite or hypothermia.

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