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Cold Weather Poses a Number of Dangers to Mississippians

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 07 Dec 2010 08:34am | comments
A mural across the street from the Stewpot Shelter where some sought warmth.

Much of the nation, including Mississippi, shivers under a deep cold snap. For many people, the cold is more than a nuisance, it can be deadly. MPB's Jeffrey Hess looks for ways Mississippians are staying safe and warm.

Across Mississippi, cold weather shelters are opening up for the homeless and folks with homes are looking for ways to add extra warmth.

Space Heaters are a popular quick fix for a winter chill but they can be dangerous if they are not used correctly. State Fire Marshall Mike Chaney says an unexpected risk comes from the power cord.

"They need to be direct and never into an extension cord. A lot of people use an extension cord just simply because they want the heater somewhere else in the room. If the extension cord is not rated for the amps, it will burn up. And that is where a lot of fires start," Chaney explained.

More then 70 people in Mississippi have died from home fires this year, but it is not clear how many of those fires were started by a space heater. Other seasonal fire dangers include cooking fires, candles and electrical issue from festive decorations.

Darren Bridgers was in a Central Mississippi home improvement store shopping for window sealing caulk and a large heater to keep his family warm.

"More of a preparation thing, like I said, long term. Sealing the windows, trying to do anything extra I can to make it a little bit better for the family," Bridgers said.

But for people without a home, finding heat is a bit more challenging.

Percy Younger was sitting on a stoop in front of the Stewpot Shelter in downtown Jackson Tuesday. He is homeless, uses a golf club as a walking stick, and carries set of blankets in a big plastic bag. He prefers to stay outside but says it just got too cold.

"Maybe it will be cold this year, and next year it might not be as cold. It varies on how much the wind temperature and the cold wind chill gets," Younger said.

Hundreds of Mississippians are using cold weather shelters that are open in communities from Biloxi to South Haven.

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A mural across the street from the Stewpot Shelter where some sought warmth.


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