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January 03. 2014 12:34PM

Firefighters offer tips to stay safe in the cold


John Jaskolka of Manchester clears snow from his car on Friday morning. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)
DOVER - As artic winds whip across the region, firefighters remind area residents to stay warm and limit over-exposure to the elements.

While the winter storm warning issued by the National Weather Service expired at 10 a.m., a wind chill advisory remains in effect until 1 p.m. and cold temperatures are predicted to continue through Saturday.

"Dover Fire Chief Richard Driscoll urges residents to take precautions as the temperatures remain low, dropping below zero tonight,"
according to a press release by the city.

Firefighters remind residents to wear warm layers and clothing to ward off the cold, change wet clothing and watch for signs of frostbite, which start with pain and reddish skin.

"Watch for skin that has turned white or grayish, and feels firm, waxy or numb. Seek immediate medical attention if you have any of these symptoms," according to the release.

Firefighters also warn older or younger residents are more at risk for hypothermia.

Rochester Fire Chief Norm Sanborn reminded people to always use the recommended fuel for the heating appliance.

"Sometimes people do some strange things," Sanborn said, adding fires or injuries have occurred as people attempt to desperately stay warm by adding other fuel to their oil tank or crowd heaters.

"You definitely don't want to refuel things when they're still warm or still operating - especially the portable heaters," Sanborn said.

While the recent storms did not cause extensive power outages, Sanborn said it's very important to keep generators away from enclosed spaces and to ensure exhaust vents aren't near doors, windows or other openings in the home.

Firefighters advise residents to keep their furnaces, wood stoves and heating equipment operational, and clear of any flammable items, like curtains, kindling and blankets. Due to the possibility of carbon monoxide, homes should have a CO detector - which is often sold with smoke alarms - in good working order and combustible equipment should be used in well-vented areas.

As Rochester hasn't opened a warming shelter, Sanborn said residents can always stop by public buildings - including City Hall or the library - to shake off the cold. He added the Salvation Army established shelter last winter, but he hasn't heard whether they plan to do so again.

As crews across the region continue to remove snow from streets and sidewalks, area residents can help by digging out fire hydrants.

"Fire hydrants can become buried and are difficult to find during emergencies where seconds count. Please help Dover Fire & Rescue make sure all of the fire hydrants in the City are clear of snow and ice, saving valuable time during an emergency," according to the release.

It is also important to shovel out all exits to homes and businesses to ensure occupants can egress during emergencies and allow
emergency personnel access, if needed, according to the release. Nonetheless, firefighters warn residents to avoid overexertion when shoveling snow.

"Overexertion can bring on a heart attack - a major cause of death in the winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside," according to the release.




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