Southside firefighters offer fire prevention tips

CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - It's fire prevention week.

Data show that every 20 seconds, a fire department responds to a fire somewhere in the nation. In the U.S., someone dies from a home fire roughly every 134 minutes.

Southside firefighters want to make sure accidental fires don't put a damper on the holidays.

"During the holiday season, the main two fires are one the cooking fires, the number one cause of fires across the United States and two the heating fires, not servicing furnaces or heaters in early fall months," said Assistant Fire Chief Hugh Futrell.

Space heaters, if used improperly, can be the most dangerous appliance in a home. Futrell said to never use gas heaters in the home, avoid using extension cords and keep them at least 3 feet from anything that might burn, including the wall.

"If you set this 3 feet away from bed linens, but its near your window curtains now your window curtain they can be drawn into the heater and this device can overheat or the curtains can set on fire," said Futrell.

Homeowners are urged to use newer model space heaters.

"If you have an older model, if it doesn't shut off when it tips over - you need to get rid of that and get a new one," said Futrell.

A working smoke detector is key tool in saving lives in the case of a fire.

"Smoke detectors save lives. The problem is a lot of homes have them, but they are not working, because they haven't checked the batteries," said Futrell.

When cooking holiday treats for family and friends, watch what you heat.

"You need to turn your handle either over the counter or over the stove - out of the walkway path," said Futrell.

Futrell suggests cooking with a lid nearby and a fire extinguisher to smother any flareups that may occur.

"You can walk over here grab the fire extinguisher off the wall, you can pull, aim, squeeze, sweep and the fire can be put out," said Futrell.

Safety is best tool to prevent fires.

Futrell also suggests learning how to use your fire extinguisher before there is an emergency.

Experts say to use an extinguisher only on small fires. If there is a large fire, get out immediately and call 911 from another location.

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