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Freezing temperatures cause issues for Northeast Ohio's firefighters and homeowners

The bitter cold temperatures can cause problems for fire departments, as well as homeowners trying to stay warm and keep their plumbing functioning.

BARBERTON, Ohio — The bitter cold forecast here in Northeast Ohio means there could be a whole host of issues that come along with it.

“As it gets colder outside, people do interesting things to try to keep warm,” says Lt. Dave Polacek with the Barberton Fire Department.

RELATED: FORECAST | More snow showers by Wednesday evening as the cold continues

These colder temperatures make people think of different things and for Polacek and other firefighters in Northeast Ohio, they think of all the added reasons they may be a call.

“We don’t ever want to bring kerosene heaters in the home, any type of open burner or have some type of combustion,” says Polacek.

In addition to getting calls for different reasons during the extreme cold, fire departments have to deal with the elements as well. The Barberton Fire Department was called to an apartment building on February 8th, but the low temperatures caused a water main break and made the hydrants unusable.

Polacek says, “You have the brutal temperatures and older pipes, sometimes those break.”

The freezing forecast will do the same thing to your home plumbing, causing pipes to burst and thousands of dollars in damage. However, there are some things you can do to try and prevent an issue. Experts suggest turning off the water to the outside lines and letting faucets drip a bit to keep the water flowing.

“If you contain an area and it freezes, it has to go somewhere,” says Jason Hettinger, owner of AdvantaClean in Columbus, Ohio. “Nature doesn’t like to be controlled or contained, as everyone knows.”

Hettinger also says sealing cracks around pipes, leaving cabinet doors open to allow air flow and removing hoses from outside faucets can help.

The Institute for Business and Home Safety says insurance companies have paid out $4 billion dollars in claims for frozen or burst pipes over the last decade. Hettinger says the immediate damage of a burst pipes isn’t always the worst part.

“Mold tends to degrade building materials and can also structurally compromise that area of the home,” says Hettinger. “So, it’s a big issue.”

It’s worth taking the advice on precautions from someone who’s seen it before. After all, that’s the same motto of the Barberton Fire Department.

“There’s an old adage that says, if you want to be an old guy in the fire service, listen to the old guys in the fire service,” says Polacek.

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