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


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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THREE LAKES - Dozens of people gathered at Three Lakes Watersports to waterski today for the third annual Pass the Handle Day.

This worldwide project was started by two legendary wake-boarders.

People of all ages and levels geared up to ski for free.

One of the boats honks as a skier lands in the water. That's the sound of a successful trip around the lake.

Corey Seemann is one of the instructors at Three Lakes Watersports. He knows how important these moments are for kids.

"It's what makes it special," Seemann said. "Seeing people that have never had the opportunity to come out and kind of live their dream, you know, and see some of the kids just have a blast."

Kids of all different ages came out for an action packed day. Some with more experience than others.

"It's just really fun," said 8-year-old Katie Swendson. "Getting out on the water."

She just learned how to get up on one ski.

For some of the skiers, this was their first time skiing on water.

"Nervous, but once I get up I get excited that I'm up," said 10-year-old Blake Slizwski.

One of the youngest skiers was 6-year-old Jack Westfall.

He went out with only one thing in mind.

"I'm here to water ski to get a puppy," Westfall said.

His sister says they've been trying to get him to ski for a long time and puppy was an incentive to get him out there.

"Little does he know, he's getting a stuffed puppy," said his sister, Anna.
 
Stuffed or not, Jack had two successful trips around the lake, along with many other kids.

Three Lakes Watersports is open all summer long.

They hold waterski and wakeboard lessons for skiers of all ages and levels

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MERRILL - Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said he didn't want to spend too much time at the Republican National Convention last week because he wanted to get back to campaigning in his home state.

The senator from Oshkosh stopped at the Lincoln County Fair on Saturday.

He faces a tight races against former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis). 

Johnson gave a speech on Tuesday in Cleveland about national security, as he is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security.

He seems pleased with the Republican presidential ticket.

"I think it's really complimentary to the skills Donald Trump brings to the table," Johnson said. "You got Donald Trump with the private sector experience. You got Mike Pence with a real record accomplishment both in the House and as the governor of Indiana. I think it's a pretty good pairing."

He said he wouldn't pay too much attention to the speeches at the Democratic National Convention this week.

"They've got their ticket, we've got our ticket," Johnson said. "They'll make a bunch of promises they can't deliver on. And what we're going to focus on is economic growth, strengthen our economy so we can strengthen our military, so we can defeat ISIS and secure our borders." 

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SHAWANO COUNTY - UPDATE 5:13 p.m.--Police say six people, including children, were taken to area hospitals after two sport utility vehicles carrying Boy Scouts crashed in Shawano County.

The accident happened Saturday morning on Highway 29 near Bonduel.

Police say one of the SUVs was towing a trailer with equipment. The driver of that vehicle went off the roadway then overcorrected and lost control. The second SUV hit the first, and both went off the road. The trailer flipped and the second SUV landed partially on top of the first.

Bonduel police Chief Todd Chaney tells the Green Bay Press Gazette that one of the injured, a troop leader, was airlifted to St. Vincent's Hospital in Green Bay with a head injury.

Chaney said he didn't think any of the injuries were life threatening.



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CRANDON - The first annual Legionnaire Mud Challenge made its way to Crandon Saturday.

The International Off-Road Raceway welcomed nearly 200 participants who were ready to get down and dirty.

Men and women of all ages were brought together by the desire to work up a sweat.

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CRYSTAL FALLS, L'ANSE - Hunters, biologists, and wildlife watchers worry about the low deer population in northern Wisconsin.

But in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the situation is even worse.

Wildlife biologists say nearly every single fawn died after the harsh winters of 2012 and 2013, further hurting a struggling herd. In fact, the population has been on the decline since 1995.

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RHINELANDER - Emergency responders save lives and build trust in the community.

And now the Rhinelander Police Department has a new member of that team after swearing in a new officer Friday morning.

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RHINELANDER - We finally did it. We hit 90 degrees Thursday, July 21st, for the first time in almost three years.

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