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Winter Safety Tips


January 13, 2015


As Winter sets in at the beach and the possibliy of some freezing rain tonight. The fire departments of Georgetown County are asking for your help in protecting yourself, your loved ones, and our emergency responders from a fire tragedy. When the outside temperatures are lower people may use whatever means they have to stay warm, and unfortunately, that is when we see home fires increase. Historically, fire deaths and injuries increase about 63% in the winter months (December-March). In 2014, fire deaths increased in South Carolina by 30 percent over the previous year, which makes getting the fire safety messages to everyone even more critical and we urge everyone to please follow these simple winter safety tips.

  • Check your smoke alarms to make sure they work and replace any smoke alarms that are more than 10 years old. If you are unsure about how many smoke alarms you need; contact your local fire department for assistance.

  • Install carbon monoxide detectors if you have a fireplace and/or gas appliances. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas and without a detector you may not know its present. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include light-headedness, confusion, headaches, vertigo, and flu-like effects. Long term exposure could impact your central nervous system and heart and could cause death. If your detector activates or you experience signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning; leave immediately and call 911.

  • If there is a fire, get out and stay out. Call the fire department as soon as you are safely outside.

  • All heaters need space. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.

  • Keep kids and pets away from open fires and space heaters.

  • Turn off portable heaters when leaving the room or going to bed.

  • Never use an oven to heat your home.

  • Use heating equipment with the label of a recognized testing laboratory (UL) with an automatic shut-off if they tip over.

  • Place space heaters on a solid, flat surface and keep them and their electrical cords away from things that can burn like high traffic areas and doorways.

  • Plug space heaters directly into wall outlets and never into an extension cord or power strip.

  • Inspect any heater for a damaged cord, broken plugs, or loose connections. Replace them before using the space heater.

  • If you use fuel-burning space heaters use the proper fuel as specified by the manufacturer.

  • When refueling allow the appliance to cool first and then refuel outside.

  • When using the fuel-burning space heater open a window to ensure proper ventilation.

  • If you smell gas coming from your gas heater do not light the appliance. Leave the building immediately, shut off the gas to your house, and call the fire department.

  • Wood stoves should bear the label of a recognized testing laboratory (UL).

  • In wood stoves burn only dry seasoned wood. In pellet stoves burn only dry seasoned wood pellets.

  • Keep the doors of your wood stove closed unless loading or stoking the live fire.

  • Allow ashes to cool before disposing of them. Douse and saturate the ashes with water. Place ashes in a tightly covered metal container and keep the ash container at least 10 feet away from the home and any other nearby buildings. Never empty the ash directly into a trash can.

  • Make sure that you have your fireplace cleaned and inspected each season.

  • Keep combustibles away from the front of your fireplace and make sure the safety screen is closed.

By following these simple safety tips you will reduce the chance of having a fire and better protect yourself, your loved ones, and our emergency responders from a fire tragedy.

By Georgetown County Emergency Management

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