Safety tips for cold nights


Published: Thursday, January 3, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 3, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.

With temperatures expected to dip into the teens this morning, fire officials are cautioning residents to be very careful when using heaters and chimneys, and to double-check those smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management reported that last year 183 Floridians died from fire-related causes. And of all the structure fires reported to the State Fire Marshal's Office in 2006, only 38 percent had a smoke detector present.

The State Fire Marshal's Office offers tips to keep in mind this time of year, which include having gas appliances, including heaters, checked for leaks or damage; keep space heaters at least three feet away from furniture, walls or drapes; clean chimneys regularly and never burn anything other than firewood.

Residents also should be careful to always extinguish candles when leaving a room, and to make sure electrical extension cords are in proper condition and are the correct rating when being used with a heater.

Checkpoint results: Officers made three DUI arrests and issued 30 traffic citations at an Alachua County checkpoint on Archer Road last week, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.

The multi-agency detail was held for four hours starting Friday night and ending early Saturday, said Capt. Coby Fincher. Officers held the checkpoint on Archer Road at SW 69th Terrace.

"It's a well-traveled roadway between here and other counties," Fincher explained as to why officers had selected the checkpoint location.

Thirty-eight officers participated in the checkpoint, held the weekend before New Year's Eve. Several agencies were involved in addition to FHP, including the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, the Gainesville Police Department, the High Springs Police Department, the University of Florida Police Department and the Florida Department of Transportation.

Fewer fires: Gainesville managed to keep it green during the holidays.

The city's fire rescue department reported only one significant house fire after it launched its "Keep the Wreath Green" in early December.

The agency annually displays large wreaths decorated with green lightbulbs during the holidays. But, when there's a fire, a red light is switched out for a green one.

By the end of the safety campaign in 2006, the wreaths were lit with 11 red bulbs. This year there was only one.

Warmer weather and public education on fire safety may have helped reduce the number of fires, said Gainesville Fire Rescue spokeswoman Laura Koppel. Whatever the reasons, she said organizers were pleased with the results.

"Our numbers of red bulbs significantly decreased this year," she said.

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