Muskogee Fire Offers Tips To Stay Safe, Warm In Cold Weather
MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma - For Muskogee firefighters, cold weather means their call volume gets red-hot. During the last freeze, they responded to a number of house fires, including fatal one.
Now, the department is offering some tips on how to stay safe when cold weather arrives.
With frigid temperatures upon us, people will be heading to places like Home Depot or the local hardware store to pick up extra ways to stay warm - but first responders warn that doing that can be dangerous, even deadly, if you don't pay attention.
Dwyne Perry lives next door to a home on 7th Street in Muskogee. Just two weeks ago, he watched as it burned with his neighbor still inside.
"He was laying in the bed right there," Perry said.
Xenophon Clark, 86, died shortly after firefighters pulled him out.
It had been below freezing for days and investigators said the fire started because Clark tried to get warm.
Muskogee Assistant Fire Chief John Tipton said, "He had a space heater in between two beds, almost right up against the beds. He got too warm, flipped the blanket off and it landed on top of the heater, caught on fire, caught the beds on fire."
Tipton said, during the last cold spell the department was inundated with calls - more than double what they usually make.
"On an average day, usually we average four to five first responder runs. That day we had 26 runs in one day, one 24-hour period, which is a lot, very unusual for us," he said.
Of the calls they responded to, Tipton said many were from people trying to heat their homes.
Another thing he noticed was no working smoke alarms.
The assistant chief said, "Smoke alarms save thousands of lives each year, but they can't without a working battery."
Tipton said with freezing temperatures setting in again, he's worried. He wants people to put batteries in their smoke alarms or call the fire department if they don't have one.
He said if you're heating your home with a space heater, read the directions.
The Muskogee Fire Department has a list of safety tips on their Facebook page. They will also come to your home and install smoke detectors for free if you live within the city limits.