Fire hazard increases in cold weather

Published 12:26 pm Friday, January 5, 2018

LANDRUM – With the extremely cold weather during the last few days, Landrum Fire and Rescue District is cautioning residents about fire hazards. Chief Warren Ashmore said the district has started the new year responding to several fires in the area.

According to Landrum Fire and Rescue District Captain M. Rollins, space heaters and power strips are the biggest risk this time of year. “Space heaters should not be left unattended for long periods of time,” he said. “People should also keep them at least three or four feet away from other things.”

Rollins added that blankets and curtains near a space heater were a common hazard and Ashmore said he’s heard of people stacking papers on top of them. “The older space heaters don’t turn off when they are knocked over,” Rollins added, saying knocked over space heaters are a common cause of household fires in the winter.

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With the extra holiday lights and heaters overloaded power strips, electrical outlets and drop cords are another big hazard this time of year. Rollins said it’s easy to overload these electrical connections and cause a fire. Cords should also be checked for worn places and not placed underneath rugs, especially in high traffic areas.

Rollins said another thing people can do to help prevent fires is to have their chimney cleaned and inspected. Chimney sweep logs help as well, but do not take the place of a professional checking the chimney.

Fireplaces should have a sturdy screen to keep sparks and coals from flying into the room. It is best to allow ashes to cool completely before removing and placing in a metal container. Ash containers should be kept a safe distance away from the home.

“People should never use their oven to heat the house,” Rollins said. “Some people have no other source of heat and leave the oven on.”

Both Rollins and Ashmore said smoke detectors are a big part of saving lives in case of a fire. They should be checked once a month and the batteries replaced twice a year.

Landrum Fire and Rescue will install smoke detectors for free in residences within their district. Rollins added that if the homeowner will purchase a carbon monoxide detector, the Fire and Rescue District will install that as well. For help with a smoke detector contact the Landrum Fire and Rescue District at 828-457-3101