MOULTRIE — With the holiday season and colder weather on the horizon, many people will look for ways to stay warm and make their homes festive. Along with those efforts, however, residents are also advised to be safe during the holiday season.
Moultrie Fire Department Fire Marshall Capt. Lavon Cooper said there are many things everyone needs to consider when it comes to fire safety. The most important thing is to be sure every home has at least one working smoke detector on each floor, including the basement. Be sure there is a smoke detector outside of each sleeping area, also.
With the recent time change, Cooper said it is recommended to check the batteries in smoke detectors to ensure they are working properly. The detectors should be checked at least once a month, and replace any batteries that are no longer working. Smoke detectors installed by the Moultrie Fire Department, however, have long-life lithium batteries that last between five and 10 years, but one should still be sure the detector is working properly.
Cooking fires are the number one cause of fires in the country, in the state of Georgia and in Moultrie, Cooper said. To ensure cooking safety and avoid a fire, never leave something cooking unattended. This year, the city has had 13 fires as of Thursday caused by someone leaving a cooking container unattended, including one at a house on Second Street Southwest Tuesday.
In addition to always watching food as it cooks, Cooper said it is best to cook it at the lowest possible temperature. Keep a three-foot clearance of any combustible materials from the pot, and it is best to keep children and pets away. If a child is cooking, however, make sure an adult is supervising the child.
Cooper said to cover a pot in the event of a grease fire and smother the flames. Be sure to also turn off the pot’s heat source to help squelch the fire.
Home heating devices are the second leading cause of house fires, and Cooper said to be sure all heating units are checked annually. Homes with chimneys need to be cleaned of debris, and it is recommended they be cleaned out by a licensed chimney sweep.
Any heating devices need to be turned off whenever a person leaves the room or the house, Cooper said. Keep a three-foot clearance of combustible materials away from a heating source, and use the correct type of fuel for heating sources, such as a kerosene lamp.
Portable heating units with automatic shut-offs are good devices to use, but Cooper said not to use them near beds.
Cooper said candles need to be used with manufacturer’s instructions and never be left unattended. Keep lighting sources, such as matches, out of the reach of children and be sure the candles are in a sturdy container that does not easily tip over. Blow out candle flames whenever a person leaves the room or home.
For those people who enjoy having a live Christmas tree, Cooper said to get a fresh tree and keep it well-watered. Be sure the tree is in a sturdy container that can hold a large amount of water, and keep the tree away from a heating source. If the needles of a tree fall off while running hands over a branch, the tree is too dry.
Those who prefer to have an artificial tree in their house are recommended to get a flame-retardant tree, Cooper said. With lights used in decorating, check the cords to be sure there are no frays or bed ends and follow manufacturer’s guidelines.
Extension cords can be used with Christmas decorations, but Cooper said they need to be used on only a temporary basis. Extension cords designed for outdoor use can be used indoors or outdoors, but do not use an interior extension cord outside.