Fire depts. urge safety during holiday season
by Jessica Loeding
Dec 13, 2012 | 2218 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bartow County firefighters extinguished a kitchen fire Wednesday afternoon at Jordon Townhomes on Jordon Road. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Bartow County firefighters extinguished a kitchen fire Wednesday afternoon at Jordon Townhomes on Jordon Road. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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A fire that started over the stove in a Cartersville residence Wednesday displaced one family.

Bartow County Fire Department stations 1, 2, 5 and 12 responded to 13 Jordon Road just before 2 p.m. after a grease fire began in the kitchen of a townhouse, BCFD Sgt. Lisa Hahn said.

The two-story unit suffered extensive damage in the kitchen with heavy smoke and water damage throughout the remainder of the residence, Hahn said.

She said the adjoining two units were aired out but no other residences were damaged.

Red Cross was called in to assist the family of three. No one was injured and crews were back in service before 4:30 p.m.

As the holiday season begins in earnest, BCFD and Cartersville Fire Department are urging residents to use extra care as fire hazards increase.

Hahn said the holidays mean residents are home, especially with the weather turning colder, and fires tend to increase during this time of year.

Cartersville Fire Marshal Mark Hathaway said the city doesn’t see a noticeable bump in fires during the holidays. “Fortunately, we don’t really have much of an increase statistically through the years.”

He said, nationwide, the biggest fire hazards during the festive months are candles and cooking.

Residents tend to become distracted and leave the kitchen while cooking. Hathaway said CFD encourages those busy in the kitchen should take a reminder — a utensil or a towel — when walking out of the room.

“We always discourage leaving the room if you’re cooking,” he said, “and of course, if you are leaving, turn the stove off.”

Each year fires occurring during the holiday season claim the lives of over 400 people, injure 1,650 more and cause over $990 million in damage, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Kitchen fires account for 41 percent of all residential fires, with cooking as the leading cause, followed by bedroom and heating system fires. During the winter holidays there is an increase in electrical and open flame fires, mostly related to Christmas trees, decorations, and the use of candles.

For more information about holiday fire safety or to receive two free smoke alarms, contact Cartersville Fire Prevention Division at 770-387-5635 or visit Cartersville Fire Headquarters, 195 Cassville Road, Cartersville, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

MORE INFO

Christmas Tree Safety

• Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needle should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.

• Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.

• Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pickup service.

Maintain Your Holiday Lights

• Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.

• Do not overload electrical outlets.

• Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires — they should not be warm to the touch.

• Do not leave holiday lights on unattended.

Holiday Decorations

• Use only nonflammable decorations.

• Never put wrapping paper in a fireplace. It can result in a very large fire, throwing off dangerous sparks and embers and may result in a chimney fire.

• If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.

Candle Care

• Avoid using lit candles. Flameless candles are a much safer alternative. If you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down.

• Never leave the house with candles burning.

• Never put lit candles on a tree. Do not go near a Christmas tree with an open flame — candles, lighters or matches.