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Fire safety tips in focus for New Year

The Christmas holidays are done, but cold weather and New Year’s celebrations can lead to fire and safety hazards as can the remnants of Christmas past.

Clinton Fire Chief Phillip Russell said live Christmas trees and leftover boxes and wrapping paper can  become dangerous if they aren’t taken away.

“Now is the time to get those things out of the house as promptly as possible,” Russell said. “The trees have been sitting in the house for a month, and it doesn’t take much for one of them to ignite.”

Dried out trees can ignite and be fully involved in a matter of seconds, he said.

Russell also urged people to slow down as they rush to take down Christmas lights and other decorations as the New Year arrives.

“Some people get in a hurry to take it down and end up flipping a ladder, but slow down. Get two people if you’re going up a ladder to get the decorations off the gutter.”

The New Year also brings with it celebratory fireworks for some revelers, and Russell warned enthusiasts to use fireworks as safely as possible by having “a clear area” where the fireworks are being shot to avoid potential grassfires.

Users should also light fireworks with caution, affixing their launch points securely to the ground and never attempt to reignite a fuse if it doesn’t ignite the first time.

“You don’t want to see it go off and cause damage to someone’s hands or burns to the face or eye problems,” Russell said.

But even after the holidays are over, cold weather during the winter months will remain. People using space heaters will need to be especially careful, giving them a three-foot-wide berth and keeping them away from furniture.

Russell said to never leave space heaters unattended.

“Any time you’re leaving the room, turning off the heat source is really important,” he said.

Chimney inspections are vital for those using fireplaces or wood stoves as well.

“A Chimney inspection from a licensed professional isn’t that expensive, especially when you look at the damage a chimney fire can cause the entire structure,” Russell said.

Russell also urged everyone to make sure smoke detectors are installed and in working order in homes, businesses and other venues.

The Clinton Fire Department, Laurens County Fire Services and the City of Laurens Fire Department are all involved in a statewide program that offers free smoke detectors and installation to residents.

“Someone from our department will come to you and make sure you have what you need for your home,” Russell said. “And it’s at absolutely no expense to our residents.”

Russell said smoke detectors are needed in every bedroom, common area and on every level of houses.

Those in the Clinton Fire District can call 864-833-7507 or 864-833-7512 to request free smoke alarms. Laurens County Fire Services can be reached at 864-984-3624. For the City of Laurens Fire Department, call 864-984-0144.

“We’re all part of the (FireSafe) program,” Russell said. “We’re all committed to the safety of our citizens.”

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