Fire chief urges safety for residents

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Atmore Fire Chief Ronald Peebles said Tuesday that residents should take precautions to protect their homes from fire this holiday season.

Peebles said there are four safety measures homeowners can take to prevent fires.

The first is in regard to central heat and air units, he said.

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“In all of our new houses that have central heat and air, it would be wise for everybody to call their A/C repair man to service their unit for dust before starting their heater up,” Peebles said. “With the build up of dust, sometimes it can catch on fire. Most of the time, you smell the dust, but there have been times where it has started a fire.”

Another avenue residents use to stay warm are gas heaters.

Peebles said that gas heaters can put off carbon dioxide, which is an invisible and odorless gas that is harmful when inhaled.

“Most of our new modern gas heaters have carbon dioxide detectors and will shut down,” he said. “In our case, we have a lot of older houses that don’t have carbon dioxide detectors and use gas heat, furnaces or floor heaters. We recommend going to Walmart and buying a carbon dioxide detector.”

Peebles said a carbon dioxide detector saved a family last year because it went off right before they went to sleep one night.

“If they had (gone to sleep), then they would’ve never woken up,” he said.

For wooden fireplaces, Peebles said he recommends getting a chimney sweeper to clean out the built up soot and other objects from the chimney before starting that first fire.

Peebles said space heaters, which are commonly used, need a three-foot clearance all around them.

“Never run them off of an extension chord,” he said. “Never turn them on and go to sleep. Be awake and be sure you’re looking at it. The new ones have a turnover feature, but nine out of 10 times, they get knocked over and are sitting near a curtain.”

Residents are also starting to put up their Christmas trees, and Peebles said to be wary of using extension chords.

“If they’re going to have a live Christmas tree, keep it well watered, that way it’ll stay good and moist,” he said.

Additionally, Peebles said leaving candles burning isn’t a good thing, too, and to always keep an eye on them.