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Protect your public safety in the coming months

By: Paul Apfel Inside Lincoln Correspondent
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Although public safety is an issue we all should take seriously throughout the year, fall and winter weather conditions can create some unique conditions. We asked Lincoln Fire Chief Dave Whitt and Lincoln Police Chief Paul Shelgren for their insights and comments. Fire Department concerns ... Although prudent homeowners maintain their homes and keep them updated throughout the year, changes in the law occasionally create new requirements. Whitt points out a new law that became effective on July 1, 2011. The law requires that every single family home and rental residence with appliances that burn fossil fuels must have a working carbon monoxide (CO) detector. “This means if you cook or heat with natural gas,” Whitt said, “you would need a CO detector in your home.” The purpose, said the fire chief, is to prevent needless injury or death from this odorless, colorless gas that bonds with the body’s blood stream 300 times faster than oxygen. “Unlike the air we breathe,” Whitt said, “the CO stays connected to the blood cells and takes longer to release, making even low levels of exposure over a period of time potentially deadly.” Whitt cautioned that homeowners “need to ensure that all their appliances, including stoves, ovens, water heaters and gas-powered items (lawn mowers, leaf blowers etc.) are well maintained not only for the aspect of possible CO production but also to save them money.” The fire chief also urges homeowners to ensure that their smoke detector batteries are fresh and serviceable. This is also a good time to stow and secure items around the house to protect against the inevitable wind, rain and possible late-season fires. Whitt asks if you are prepared for an emergency. If you have to evacuate or live without power for a few days, do you have your medicines or a list of them? Experts also suggest that homeowners build emergency-supply kits with bottled water, flashlights, transistor radio, batteries and some canned food. Depending on individual family needs, other items can be added to the kit. Police Department issues ... As one might expect, the primary police concerns relate to home and personal security. Lincoln Police Department Sergeant Kevin Kemp responded for Chief Shelgren and provided a few tips on home security that included: • installing a security bar on garage side doors • removing light bulbs from garage door openers so the garage is not illuminated when you exit your home (gives a signal to burglars that the home may be vacant), • unplug or disconnect the garage door automatic opener if leaving for long periods, The police department also recommends homeowners participate in Neighborhood Watch programs and practice neighborhood awareness to spot suspicious activity. Lincoln residents, who plan to be away from their primary homes, should also visit police headquarters in downtown Lincoln (770 7th St.) to complete a home security check request. Call 645-4040 for more information. Police and fire department representatives were unanimous in recommending that neighbors become acquainted with each other to ensure a level of mutual awareness and cooperation.