Bitter cold temperatures like those we have recently been experiencing can too often lead people to do things that are dangerous in their homes both in the interest of keeping warm and maintaining water service. Perhaps the most common is the use of space heaters which Teton County Fire Marshal Kathy Clay says should be operated wisely. She says they need to be kept at a distance from anything combustible, placed where they are stable, and never hooked to an extension cord. The best way to keep water flowing through household pipes is to keep at least a trickle running through them at all times. However, if they do freeze up, Clay says attempts to thaw them can be very dangerous as evidenced by a home that was destroyed nearby in Idaho over the weekend. She says with pipes usually attached in areas that are combustible, torches can easily start fires and the use of welders to thaw pipes causes convection heating to carry the heat into areas a homeowner would never imagine a fire would start from the procedure. Clay also says people are using their wood-burning appliances more during the cold snap, and the bitter cold causes creosote to form more readily toward the top of chimneys where it is really cold. She says it is advisable to check on that buildup as soon as possible – and definitely after the cold snap passes. And while you’re at it, Clay says make sure your home’s smoke detectors and carbon monoxide sensors are working properly as heating appliances are being heavily worked now to maintain warm homes and businesses.