Water, bread, milk, generators, batteries and lamp oil flew off the shelves Sunday and Monday at Walmart stores in Grove, Vinita, Jay, Miami and Tahlequah. It’s the part of the state where people lost power for as long as two weeks after a January 2007 ice storm. A few bread loaves and bottled water were all that remained on Walmart shelves in Grove on Sunday. By noon Monday, shelves were restocked with bread, but bottled water and milk were still in high demand. Miami Walmart managers reported Monday afternoon they were stocked with plenty of staples but had sold out of generators.
Other Walmart stores reported a run on generators and lamp oil. “We are sold out of bread and generators,” said Sacha Winchester, Jay Walmart support manager. Most Delaware County residents were without power for up to two weeks in January 2007, while Ottawa County was hit hard almost a year later.
Dink West, owner of Dink’s Service Station in Grove, said he sold 250 gallons of kerosene on Saturday and another 250 gallons Monday morning. “We only have a few jugs of kerosene left, and we are sold out of wood pellets,” said Andrew Baugh, a sales specialist for a Lowe’s store in Claremore.
Baugh said there has not been a run on kerosene heaters. He said most people bought kerosene heaters after the previous two ice storms.
Wall-mounted gas heaters and space heaters are big sellers, he said. Many people in rural areas turn to kerosene stoves when they lose power.
“Kerosene stoves are reasonably safe,” Miami Fire Department Capt. Ronnie Ross said. “But you have to be careful when dealing with an open flame.”
Ross said kerosene heaters should only be used in a home on a temporary basis. People should operate a kerosene heater no longer than two hours at a time and keep a window cracked, he said.
“Generators must be kept outside when using them,” Ross said. “Generators put off carbon monoxide, and you should not (operate) a generator in the garage.”
Heating a residence is dangerous when people leave an oven door open on a gas stove.
Most winter fires are caused by space heaters, he said, such as when people put heaters under a house to thaw pipes and leave them unattended.