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Date of Issue: January 28, 2009

Cold, windy weather blows in

An early morning storm Jan. 20 knocked down tree limbs, loosened some utility wires and damaged at least one roof on Anna Maria Island.

Local officials did not report any property damage due to the storm, but one property owner said the storm took the roof off her condominium in the 1100 block of Gulf Drive South in Bradenton Beach.

The storm ushered in an arctic cold front that prompted Florida emergency management officials to issue a flurry of warnings about freezing temperatures in the northern half of the state and “feels like freezing” temperatures in lower Florida, including the Tampa Bay area.

With residents bundling up and hunkering down, Sunshine State officials took the opportunity to urge people to check to make sure their appliances are safe.

For warmth in a cold spell, state meteorologist Ben Nelson said many residents turn on space heaters and use fireplaces that do not get a lot of operation. West Manatee Fire Rescue firefighters responded to at least one problem with a smoking, malfunctioning heater in Anna Maria last week, but reported no fires.

In the event more cold arrives this winter, state officials suggested people replace old batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

Also, electrical extension cords need to be in proper condition and correct rating for a heater. People should not overload wall plugs and individual circuits with multiple appliances.

Some other tips:

• Have gas heaters and other gas appliances checked for leaks or damage.

• Check and clean air conditioners for any dust that could spark a fire when turned on for the first time.

• Keep space heaters at least 3 feet from furniture, walls and drapes.

• Clean chimneys regularly and do not burn anything in the fireplace other than firewood.