New Hampshire

Extreme cold increases risk of deadly fire and carbon monoxide poisoning

Published: 2/2/2023 3:49:13 PM

Modified: 02/02/2023 15:49:02

Deadly fires often intersect with deadly cold.

Domestic space heaters, including electric space heaters, are the number one cause of fires and fire-related deaths during the coldest months of the year. The colder it gets, the greater the risk of fire.

With temperatures expected to be in negative territory this weekend, emergency officials urged caution on Thursday, reminding residents not to operate gas or oil-fired heaters in their home and to keep generators at least 10 feet from all buildings due to carbon monoxide poisoning keep .

The Concord Fire Department will maintain its regular staffing level over the weekend and be ready to respond to emergencies, Assistant Fire Chief Mark Hebert said.

“The duty battalion commander will make the decision to recall crews for more manpower as needed,” Hebert said. “Outages are unpredictable, but our biggest concern is residents’ access to oxygen and medical equipment during power outages.”

Residents who need shelter or warmth are encouraged to call 211, a state emergency number that offers assistance. For more information on shelters, go to

Thursday morning at the Concord Central Fire Station, state security officials including Gov. Chris Sununu, Homeland Security and Emergency Management director Robert Buxton, and Mt. Washington Observatory director of weather operations Jay Broccolo warned residents to take precautions in light of the freezing temperatures meet. which have not been this low in four years.

“This is New Hampshire, we pride ourselves on being able to brave some cold weather every now and then, but the wind chill forecast is expected to fall below minus 40 degrees in terms of state-wide wind chill,” Sununu said. “We take this very seriously and it can become life-threatening in a very short time.”

The lowest temperatures — minus 14 below in Concord — are expected Friday night through Saturday, but strong winds are expected to last longer.

Those who do not have lodging in the Concord area are encouraged to visit the Emergency Winter Shelter at First Congregational Church on North Main Street during the day and the Homeless Resource Center and Friendly Kitchen, where hours have been extended to December 24th hours of warmth.

“Local people across the state are identifying their most vulnerable homeless populations and informing them about housing options,” Sununu said. “The local coordinators know people by their first names and I am impressed by the local level and its specificity. You are doing a phenomenal job.”

Shelters across the state are full, but advocates are working to add an additional 350 beds statewide this weekend for the unhoused population, and some communities are organizing with local hotels, said Chris Santaniello, deputy commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Humans Human Services.

Should power outages occur, Sununu said one of the state’s top priorities will be restoring power to all residents as soon as possible.

Broccolo said anyone attempting to climb Mount Washington or hike above the tree line this weekend is risking their own lives and the lives of rescuers and first responders

Above tree line, temperatures are expected to drop to minus 40 degrees on Friday and Saturday nights, with winds in excess of 100mph, he said. Snow is expected and visibility will be low.

“The weekend forecast is gnarly even by our standards,” said Broccolo. “We have limited staff up there who cannot help you and it will be difficult for emergency services to get out on Saturday night. If you get caught above the tree line, it will be a long time before rescuers can reach you.”

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