Families Coping with Cold during Power Outage Aftermath

WEST HAMLIN, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- There are people who live in West Hamlin who will tell you timing's everything.

"Tuesday and Wednesday wouldn't have been so bad, because it was more than 60 degrees," says Evelina Butcher. "But if you don't heat with wood, it's a cold night."

Parts of West Hamlin were not spared by sporadic power outages around the state of West Virginia. In fact, because of that, West Hamlin Elementary School was cancelled for Thursday.

As of Thursday night, there were more than 1,000 customers without power in WSAZ's coverage area.

"My hair's a mess because of no power, but I'm here," says Tera Baker. She's the secretary, and good sport, at Guyan Valley Elementary School just a few miles away. "We heat with gas so it's not too bad."

"My heat pump needs electricity to circulate the heat in these vents," says Brandon McNeely. "Without electricity they just don't work.

The McNeely family, huddled in the laundry room, where a gas space heater heats two small rooms.

"You gotta do what you gotta do to stay warm," McNeely says. "We just make sure we stay far enough away from the heater and that the room is vented."

The Deputy Fire Chief of West Hamlin is Ron Porter. He says candles have become antiquated.

"Don't use them for a light source, especially when there's no power," Porter says. "You can buy these LED flashlights that are very bright, they're very inexpensive and can last up to 150 hours."

Porter also says it's important to make sure there's adequate ventilation if you're using a combustible fuel in your home and to make sure generators stay outdoors.

"I can't stress enough the importance of having a carbon monoxide detector in your home," Porter says.

If you're using a generator, the National Institute for Safety Standards now recommends you place the generator at least 25 feet from your home, to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

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