Authorities issue warnings, tips in midst of bitter cold snap

Authorities issue warnings, tips in midst of bitter cold snap

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - This stretch of brutally cold weather has dealt a blow to the Tennessee Valley, causing pipes to burst and even leading to a number of home-heating related fires.

Law enforcement officials have several warnings and tips to help keep you and your family safe.

When it's cold, who doesn't love getting in a nice warm car? But the Madison County Sheriff's Office advises against you leaving it running when you're running errands, especially when you have precious cargo with you.

"Whenever you're dropping off children or you're picking up children from daycare at school, secure your vehicle. Don't leave it running period, or running with a child inside of it. It's an opportunity for somebody to take advantage of you. In Wisconsin in December, there was a car taken from a daycare with a seven month old baby inside. In Mississippi in November, there was a car taken from a daycare that was left running," said Lt. Donny Shaw.

Officials stress that you also need to be careful about leaving your car warming up in your driveway or your garage.

"If they have a second key and they start it up, let it get warm and lock it to go back inside or if you have a remote start, that's a good method of doing it. We just don't want anyone to be victimized by someone taking advantage of them trying to warm up their cars. We just want you to take an extra minute to do it in a way that everything is safe and secure," Lt. Shaw added.

Move it out of the garage and close the garage door.

"A garage that is open facing the same direction the wind is blowing, it will push the carbon monoxide back inside the residence. If a car is running in the garage, it's going to fill the house with carbon monoxide. Even if you have your door closed, you have to open that door to go in and out and there's going to be a lot of carbon monoxide in that short period of time get inside the residence," explained Cpt. Tony Kirk with the East Limestone Volunteer Fire Department.

Recent fires, meanwhile, have been caused by home heating blunders in Morgan County.

"Please be wary of space heaters and not overloading circuits, not putting it into electrical extension cords. Make sure they're not near clothing or drapery or furniture. We've had several house fires that have happened as a result of the cold weather, either from fireplaces that have not been used in a while or from space heater malfunctions or kerosene issues," said Sheriff Ana Franklin.

Be prepared when you hit the road.

"Be sure that you're topped off with gasoline and you have enough to get to where you're going and to get home. Have a couple of extra blankets and coats in the vehicle in case you break down. Make sure your phone is charged and that you have something to charge your phone with while you're traveling. You don't want to get out here and run out of gas and have a vehicle problem and be cold and have a cold weather injury due to it being as cold as it is," Lt. Shaw stressed.

Using your stove or oven to get warm is extremely dangerous but for some, but officials know for some, it could be a desperate last resort.

"Make sure that there's a good space of at least five to six feet out away from that oven, and that nothing can get in there, even pets and children," urged Cpt. Kirk.

"Space heaters can cause a fire very easily. A lot of times, we turn it on and forget about it and then a chair gets pushed up next to it or it gets moved next to a bed and then it kicks on. Some of these space heaters that do not have a separate on/off switch, when you turn it down to where it says off, you've actually turned it down to 55 degrees and if the temperature drops below 55, it's going to come on if it's still plugged into the wall," he added.

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