Posted: Sunday, January 5th 2014 at 3:46pm
Cold weather could make for dangerous situations, officials warn
GAINESVILLE - With temperatures expected to drop in Hall County over the next few days, Hall County Fire Officials are encouraging residents to take extra precautions during the cold weather. As temperatures drop, the number of residential fires usually increases.
“Many times, people just don’t understand the risk involved in using alternative heating methods, said Capt. Scott Cagle, Hall County Fire Marshall. “They are trying to keep costs down, and stay warm, and sometimes those things just don’t add up.”
Fire officials recommend that residents consider the following safety guidelines when using fireplaces or wood stoves:
*Use only seasoned hardwood. Soft, moist wood accelerates creosote buildup.
*Build small fires that burn completely and produce less smoke.
*Never burn cardboard boxes, trash or debris in your fireplace or wood stove.
*Never use flammable liquids to start a fire.
*Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house.
*Soak hot ashes in water and place them in a metal container outside your home.
When using electric space heaters, remember:
•Space heaters need space. Keep items at least three feet away from each heater – in front, behind, above, and below.
•When buying a space heater, only buy one with a safety feature that automatically shuts off the power if the heater falls over, and that has been evaluated by a testing laboratory.
•Space heaters require a large amount of electricity. When using a space heater, do not plug anything else into the same outlet.
•Never leave space heaters unattended. Turn them off and unplug them when leaving the home or when going to bed at night.
Another problem during the winter months is carbon monoxide (CO). Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. CO gas can come from several sources: gas-fired appliances, charcoal grills, wood-burning furnaces or fireplaces, and motor vehicles. CO poisoning symptoms are similar to flu symptoms. These symptoms include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue. CO poisoning is deadly.
•Never use your range or oven to help heat your home and never use a charcoal grill or hibachi in your home or garage.
•Never keep a car running in a garage. Even if the garage doors are open, normal circulation will not provide enough fresh air to reliably prevent a dangerous buildup of CO.
•Install at least one carbon monoxide alarm with an audible warning signal near the sleeping areas and outside individual bedrooms.
“This is also a good time to check the operation of your smoke alarms, and design and practice your home escape plan,” Cagle added.
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