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News | Nov. 9, 2016

Experts promote winter safety at DSCC

By Craig M. Rader DLA Land and Maritime Public Affairs

Associates at Defense Supply Center Columbus are taking steps to prepare for cold weather, including learning about hazards that become more frequent during the winter months.

A group of local fire prevention and safety experts visited the installation Nov. 2 to offer tips for dealing with dangers such as severe weather, carbon monoxide exposure, and even deep-fried turkey accidents.

During an assessment of potential threats facing the population of Central Ohio, the Franklin County Emergency Management office determined that severe winter weather ranked seventh in a list of most significant risks to the residents. Christopher Williams, a community emergency response coordinator for the county, said despite the dangers posed by severe cold weather, preparing for them isn’t complicated.  

“Fortunately, when winter storms are approaching, we often have several days to prepare before the worst weather arrives,” Williams said. “However, that doesn’t mean that those few preceding days are the time to go out and buy emergency items like road salt, generators, and extra food.

“I advise everyone to consider stocking up on those supplies now, so you can use the time immediately before the worst weather strikes to take other precautions.”

Williams also suggested purchasing a dedicated weather radio to monitor conditions and to develop a household plan for dealing with situations including power outages or loss of utilities such as water or gas for heat.

He said just knowing how to recognize the early symptoms of hypothermia can save a life, especially for people who spend extended periods outdoors during severe cold weather.

“Each year we receive reports of people who get stranded in their cars when the roads become blocked. Some try to walk to safety, and others have spent the night in their vehicles waiting to get rescued.

“That’s why it’s important to have an emergency plan for these situations for your home – and your car,” Williams said.

Joining Williams at the presentation was Lt. David Sawyer from the Columbus Division of Fire. As the department’s community relations officer, Sawyer is used to answering fire prevention questions, especially related to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.

Sawyer showed a video of an unattended Christmas tree fire, and how fast the fire spread through the entire room.

“What starts as a small flame quickly ignites the whole tree,” he said. “As you can see, it takes less than a minute for the entire area to be engulfed in flames.”

Sawyer said that one third of all Christmas tree fires start from electrical sources, especially faulty lights or tree-toppers. Of those, one out of thirty-one results in death.

He said there are simple precautionary steps anyone can do to prepare for fires, including keeping two fire extinguishers in each home, and making sure smoke detectors are in working order.

“Just because you have fresh batteries in your smoke detector doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to work every time,” he said. “Most smoke alarms need to be replaced every 10 years to ensure their sensors are functional.

Sawyer also recommends that each household have at least one carbon monoxide detector.

Following the formal presentations, Andrea Hauser, a coordinator from the Franklin County Safe Communities office was on hand to answer questions and pass out brochures covering additional safety precautions.