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Colder temperatures means stronger risk of house fires, Orange County emergency management says

Photo: Laurens Bontenbal.
Laurens Bontenbal
Orange County Fire Rescue truck.

The National Weather Service is issuing a “freeze watch” this holiday weekend as temperatures dip to 30 degrees. A wind chill is expected to bring temperatures down to the 20s.

As a result, Central Florida could experience a frosty Christmas with an incoming cold front threatening freezing temperatures. Orange County Emergency Management is warning residents to be careful using space heaters to warm their homes.

When temperatures dip the potential for house fires rises because of space heater misuse, said Carlos Durden, assistant manager for Emergency Management.

“Another thing we see is a lot of people like to put these space heaters in tight spaces. And what I mean tight spaces, they put them down and they have them close within three feet of the space heaters and those things catch fire,” Durden said.

Heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fires and about 88% of home heating fire deaths involved stationary or portable space heaters, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Durden also warned residents to keep an eye on kids getting too close to space heaters and burning themselves, and to avoid using ovens, especially gas ovens to warm their homes.

If thermometers reach freezing temperatures there is a possibility pipe could freeze, Durden said, but there are ways to safely warm them up.

“If you open those cabinet doors that would allow those areas to warm up enough to where those were those pipes don't freeze underneath there as well. And if the pipes do freeze, let them thaw out naturally, we don't want you to get in any type of torch, or anything let those pipes heat up naturally.”

Additionally, if a resident's car windshield freezes, don’t throw warm water at it as it will likely crack the glass, Durden said. Instead, turn on the car’s defroster, or use a hair dryer to thaw out the ice.

Originally from South Florida, Joe Mario came to Orlando to attend the University of Central Florida where he graduated with degrees in Radio & Television Production, Film, and Psychology. He worked several beats and covered multimedia at The Villages Daily Sun but returned to the City Beautiful as a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel where he covered crime, hurricanes, and viral news. Joe Mario has too many interests and not enough time but tries to focus on his love for strange stories in comic books and horror movies. When he's not writing he loves to run in his spare time.
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