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Avoid heating hazardsSubmitted: 01/05/2014
Story By Lauren Stephenson

Avoid heating hazards
RHINELANDER - Health officials urge people to stay indoors the next few days to avoid health problems caused by frigid temperatures.

But staying inside your home can be dangerous if you don't heat it properly.

The most common cold weather emergencies Rhinelander firefighters respond to are fires caused by portable heaters.

But it's not just the heaters that cause fires.

It's the extension cords used to power them.

"People overuse them. They join them together. In fact, we recommend if you need an extension cord to buy a power strip. That's got the circuit breaker built in to it so if the appliance were to overheat, the circuit breaker would trip," said Rhinelander Fire Department Deputy Chief Craig Metz.

People using portable heaters should place them in the middle of a room to avoid a fire hazard.

They shouldn't run extension cords through doorways.

The cords can bend, causing them to wear down.

Firefighters don't respond to as many chimney or oven fires as they did a few years ago.

New furnaces and the ability for more people to have heat through heating assistance programs have helped reduce the use of ovens and fires.

But a furnace can still pose a danger.

"You want to make sure the intake and the exhaust on your furnace is kept clean. We see that quite a bit where the snow banks will block off the exhaust of the furnace," explained Metz.

Exhaust can build up, creating deadly carbon monoxide levels if the snow isn't cleared.

Firefighters say now is a perfect time to check your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors to be sure they're working.

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She has two young kids and regularly checks the sex offender registry. 

The Rhinelander mom wishes to stay anonymous. We'll refer to her as Linda. 

Linda found out a sex offender moved in a few doors down from her by flipping through a local newspaper, She saw a small box at the bottom page with a notification. 

"He kind of just snuck in," said Linda. 

William Huntington moved close to Linda's house in May. However, Linda says she knew nothing until she did research of her own in July. 

"When I saw what he was found guilty of I was in shock. I was in complete shock," said Linda. 

He was convicted in Dane County for repeatedly sexually assaulting his 8- year- old neighbor about twenty years ago. He's now required to wear a lifetime GPS monitoring system. 

Dana Wszalek works with the Department of Corrections in Rhinelander as a Regional Chief. Her office supervises people like Huntington in the community.

"What we do is not a cookie cutter type of approach to supervision; it's relative to what their risks are based on their case dynamics," said Wszalek. 

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"They have different life experiences. They are a part of the community," said Wszalek. 

Wszalek understands the wariness community members might feel.

"As a parent it's important to be aware of who's in your neighborhood," said Wszalek. 

Linda said one of her 6- year- old child was planning on walking to school with friends this year, but instead they'll get driven.

"I feel like the neighborhood we moved into to be able to have these things has been taken away," said Linda.

Linda said she was shocked she didn't get a call or knock on her door from law enforcement.

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