Home fires occur more often in winter than in any other season, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, and I would like for everyone to be extra careful this season.
Cooking equipment is the leading cause of home fire injuries, followed by heating equipment, but smoking materials are the leading cause of home fire deaths.
So take time out to discuss fire safety. Call your family together and plan escape routes and places to meet in case of an emergency. Have all heating equipment and electrical systems checked out, and always be careful when cooking or heating things.
As temperatures get colder, there will be an increased use of fires and fireplaces to heat up homes. I would like to offer everyone some tips as you begin using your wood stoves or fireplaces during the winter months.
Always use a metal mesh screen on fireplaces to prevent embers from escaping.
Never burn trash or debris in woodstoves or fireplaces.
Keep Christmas trees away from fireplaces, candles, or any other open flame source.
Prevent children from accessing fireplaces and woodstoves
Install working smoke alarms on every level of the home and inside and outside of sleeping areas. Test them monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.
Install working carbon monoxide detectors on every level of the home.
We just ask that you are very careful over these winter months and be mindful of all unsafe conditions.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact us and ask questions. You can call our office, and we ask that you please follow us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/AugustaGAEMA/. We will be posting safety videos, safety handouts and links that will keep you safe all winter.
Chief Christopher E. James
The writer is EMA director and chief of the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department.