Fire safety tips
• Have smoke detectors in every room of the home, and test them often.
• Never leave cooking unattended.
• Have an evacuation plan the family knows and has practiced.
• Extinguish fireplace fires and space heaters before leaving unattended.
Sources: Hall County Fire Services Fire Marshal Bryan Cash, National Fire Protection Association, U.S. Fire Administration
As cold weather has returned to Georgia, families are beginning to settle in and prepare their homes for winter.
And as important as it is to keep warm this winter, a number of fires recently have highlighted the importance of being alert to possible fire hazards.
Bryan Cash, fire marshal for Hall County Fire Services, said household fire dangers can be easily prevented by taking some simple steps that every household can take immediately.
According to a press release from Hall County, having correct numbers and placement of working smoke detectors can easily be the difference between life and death.
Cash urges families to make sure that every bedroom has its own working smoke detector.
According to Cash, “the risk of dying in a fire is reduced by 82 percent in homes with working smoke alarms.”
Cash said alarms should be tested monthly, regardless of whether the alarm battery has begun to make the “chirping noise that may or may not occur.”
Cash also warns that parents should have specifically designed alarms for family members with special needs, such as hearing or visual impairment.
A 2015 U.S. Fire Administration study showed that 49.4 percent of all residential fires in 2013 could be linked to cooking.
“Cooking fires often result from unattended cooking and human error, rather than mechanical failure of stoves or ovens,” Cash said.
He added that cooking should never be left unattended and that kitchen smoke alarms should never be disabled for sounding in error.
Cash also said that charcoal should never be used for cooking or heating indoors. In addition to the fire hazard it poses, burning charcoal gives off carbon monoxide that can prove fatal in an enclosed space.
According to Cash, part of prepping your home to be fire safe is making sure there is a fire evacuation plan in place and ensuring that every family member knows what to do if they hear an alarm. He said that beyond having an evacuation plan, families should practice it.
To avoid fires started by curious children, Cash said matches and lighters should never be left out, but should be placed in a high, locked cabinet.
HEATING THE HOME
In the same 2015 USFA study, household heating is listed as the second largest area of fire risk in the United States, accounting for 49,000 fires in 2013.
Cash said flammable liquids should never be used to accelerate any fire in the home and that it is “possible to ignite the creosote in the chimney by overbuilding the fire”. He added that any fireplace fire should be fully extinguished before being left unattended, and that space heaters should be “in good working order” and free of damage or dust buildup.