When it's extremely cold, use extra care - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

When it's extremely cold, use extra care

By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  With sub freezing temperatures forecast at night for the rest of the week, firefighters are braced for more potentially deadly blazes. They know South Georgians will be running space heaters or their fireplaces for long periods of time, and that increases the danger of fires.

Firefighters say extension cords can be an extremely dangerous item during extended cold weather. You should never use one of these to power a space heater, but many people will do so, trying to stay warm. These can overheat when used for extended periods, and spark potential dangers.

Albany Fire Chief James Carswell said, "Winter time, especially if there is an extended cold snap like it's going to be the next couple of days, is where we see an increase in heater related fires."

Sunday, a fire that started in a chimney damaged this home on Hemlock Drive. Firefighters don't know if the chimney had a flaw, or the fire was too big, but they worry they'll see many more fireplace fires this week.

Chimney sweep 'Dirty Harry' Robertson says an unmaintained fireplace can be deadly. Ash and creosote from a fireplace which was cleaned just last year, ca still create buildup.

Firefighters are concerned space heaters will be a potential fire and death hazard. If there is a flaw in an older model heater, used for an extended period of time, that could spark a fire.

"So hopefully we'll get through it, but it's up to the individuals to make sure they use it properly and also it's been properly maintained," Carswell said. 

If you use a space heater, they are not made to run for long periods of time. Don't leave one on when you go to bed. Keep the space heater at least three feet away from curtains or bedding or clothing.

Don't use a space heater around children or pets, in case they get burned. Extended cold spells will test any heating appliance, so use them with caution. 

Most fire deaths of course happen in the winter, and heating appliances are often the cause of those fatal fires. Firefighters say use common sense, like not using extension cords to power space heaters, and keep your family safe and warm.

Firefighters say it's also vital to make sure your home has a working smoke detector, because most fatal fires happen when people are asleep.

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