St. Amant Fire Department offers cold weather advice

Capt. James E. LeBlanc
St. Amant Volunteer Fire Department Chief James E. LeBlanc

The St. Amant Fire Department would like to remind area residents to get prepared for hard freeze conditions.

Please take the time to insulate exposed water pipes. Tubular foam insulating materials are available at most hardware and home improvement stores. If none are available, sheet plastic, newspaper or towels secured by masking tape or duct tape can be effective.

Locate your home's water feed and drain valves in the event you have a pipe burst or wish to drain your home's water pipes. These are generally located where the water pipe leaves the ground and ties into your home. The cutoff valve almost always has a faucet, which can be used as a drain valve, located above it just before the pipe goes into your home's outer wall.

Should your pipes freeze, do not thaw with a flame. Use an electric hair dryer instead. Metal pipes are excellent conductors of heat and can transfer enough heat to the combustible materials they contact to cause a fire. Using a propane torch or other flame-generating appliance in your attic or under your house can actually start a fire inside the walls.

Should you use portable space heaters, be sure to maintain a 3-foot radius between the heater and any combustible materials. Bedding and drapes are easily ignited. Although more fires start in the kitchen than any other room of the house, more fatal fires start in a bedroom.

Never light an unvented wood or charcoal fire in an enclosed space. Smoldering embers can literally consume all the oxygen in a house, asphyxiating those inside.

If electrical power goes out, do not place a generator inside, under the carport or near the window through which you feed the power cord. Exhaust fumes can be deadly.

Finally, check on your neighbors, friends and family, particularly the elderly, to be sure they are safe from the cold. This is especially true if power outages result from winter conditions.

Make sure your home is equipped with working smoke detectors. Over half the deaths that have occurred in 2011 in Louisiana in home fires did not have working smoke detectors.