After a weekend of unusually high January temperatures, winter weather struck Gaithersburg in force with temperatures in the teens.
Gaithersburg police officer Dan Lane submitted the following tips for Gaithersburg area residents to stay warm and safe during extreme cold:
Heat Your Home Safely
If you plan to use a wood stove, fireplace, or space heater, be extremely careful. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions as well as the home safety measures on page 3, and remember these safety tips:
• Use fireplace, wood stoves, or other combustion heaters only if they are properly vented to the outside and do not leak flue gas into the indoor air space.
• Do not burn paper in a fireplace.
• Ensure adequate ventilation if you must use a kerosene heater.
• Use only the type of fuel your heater is designed to use— don’t substitute.
• Do not place a space heater within 3 feet of anything that may catch on fire, such as drapes, furniture, or bedding, and never cover your space heater.
• Never place a space heater on top of furniture or near water.
• Never leave children unattended near a space heater.
• Make sure that the cord of an electric space heater is not a tripping hazard but do not run the cord under carpets or rugs.
• Avoid using extension cords to plug in your space heater.
• If your space heater has a damaged electrical cord or produces sparks, do not use it.
• Store a multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher near the area to be heated.
• Protect yourself from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning by installing a battery-operated CO detector and never using generators, grills, camp stoves, or similar devices indoors.
Light and Cook Safely
If there is a power failure:
• Use battery-powered flashlights or lanterns rather than candles, if possible.
• Never leave lit candles unattended.
• Never use a charcoal or gas grill indoors— the fumes are deadly. Never use an electric generator indoors, inside the garage, or near the air intake of your house because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning:
• Plug in appliances to the generator using individual heavy-duty, outdoor-rated cords.
• Do not use the generator or appliances if they are wet because of the risk of electrocution.
• Do not store gasoline indoors where the fumes could ignite.
Prepare Your Car for Winter:
You can avoid many dangerous winter travel problems by planning ahead. Have maintenance service on your vehicle as often as the manufacturer recommends. In addition, every fall:
• Have the radiator system serviced, or check the antifreeze level yourself with an antifreeze tester. Add antifreeze, as needed.
• Replace windshield-wiper fluid with a wintertime mixture.
• Replace any worn tires, and check the air pressure in the tires.
During winter, keep the gas tank near full to help avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
Dress Warmly and Stay Dry
Adults and children should wear:
• a hat
• a scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth
• sleeves that are snug at the wrist
• mittens (they are warmer than gloves)
• water-resistant coat and boots
• several layers of loose fitting clothing
Be sure the outer layer of your clothing is tightly woven, preferably wind resistant, to reduce body-heat loss caused by wind. Wool, silk, or polypropylene inner layers of clothing will hold more body heat than cotton. Stay dry— wet clothing chills the body rapidly. Excess perspiration will increase heat loss, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm. Also, avoid getting gasoline or alcohol on your skin while de-icing and fueling your car or using a snow blower. These materials in contact with the skin greatly increase heat loss from the body. Do not ignore shivering. It’s an important first sign that the body is losing heat. Persistent shivering is a signal to return indoors.