South Georgia fire chief covers fire risks ahead of arctic blast

South Georgia fire chief covers fire risks ahead of arctic blast
Published: Dec. 20, 2022 at 5:33 PM EST
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - With an arctic blast set to cover much of the country on or before Christmas, are there fire risks that come with using appliances to heat your home? WALB’s Jim Wallace spoke to a local fire chief who gave advice on how you can stay safe and warm during frigid days.

The extreme arctic front is expected to come through South Georgia this week. And that can pose some fire dangers for people.

“Exactly, and one of the things, first off thanks for inviting me. But unattended cooking fires are the number one cause. Second, believe it or not, are heating fires. Number two cause of structure fires in homes and actually injuries and fatalities,” David Eddins, Waycross fire chief and president of the Georgia Association of Fire Chiefs, said

Tell us, I know space heaters are a big problem. Everybody gets them out when it becomes cold for a long period of time in South Georgia.

“Correct. There are two types of space heaters. The old kind, and unfortunately some of those are still in existence, they don’t have the safety features built in like newer space heaters do. So if a new space heater tips over, it’s got systems developed to shut the heater off. The old space heater don’t, so they are an added danger. And then what a lot of people don’t like to hear, and it’s hard to hear when it’s 20-something degrees outside is actually a space heater is just to keep the chill off of the room temporarily while your are occupying that room. So ideally, when you leave that room, go to bed, or leave the house, you should turn that space heater off. One of the things that we find is that people are using, I got a few props here, they use these little drop cords to plug their space heaters into the outlet. And that’s a no-no. Those drop cords are not designed to carry the current load that those space heaters pull. And then ideally, if you are going to use a space heater, plug it directly into the outlet. And let that be the only thing plugged into that outlet. Don’t use lamps or anything else in there. Because when they built your house, not going into an electrical class, they really didn’t think about the high current loads. So when you talk about a 15 or 20-amp breaker, these things can actually pull and trip your breaker or overload that little extension cord and cause a fire,” Eddins said.

Sometimes, South Georgia homes are just not built to be ready for this kind of extreme cold. And I know fire departments across the state will be ready this weekend.

“Oh yes, we’re planning on it. We’re, unfortunately, these things happen, and if people don’t keep safety in mind, anything you do to try to keep warm, just keep safety in mind.”