For Immediate Release

December 20, 2000

--Press Release from Sheriff Butler--

Home Fire Prevention Tips

With the Holiday Season upon us - along with an early cold snap - the chances of a fire occurring in our homes increases dramatically. Statistics show that over 1,000 home fires occur on a daily basis in the United States. Sadly, approximately 7,000 persons die each year in home fires as a result of carelessness or poor fire prevention planning.

There are some things that we can do however, that may lower those frightening statistics. First and foremost, check the batteries in all your smoke detectors and replace them as needed. Reserving a special date to do this activity, like an anniversary or the 1st day of winter, can be become an important ritual.

Another consideration is a thorough inspection of your fireplace or wood burning stove. While this autumn's temperatures have dipped to chilly lows already, a professional inspection of the chimney for potential safety hazards should be done annually. Burning Christmas wrapping paper and boxes should be avoided in fireplaces as well, as the flaming paper can easily ignite the chimney or roof. Remember to never put ashes from a fireplace in a combustible object, such as a plastic bucket or box. Furthermore, those same ashes should never be left in a garage, shed or on a deck. This simple action is often times the cause of many fires, as coals can smolder for up to four days.

Christmas fire safety is especially important due largely to traditional decorations. Christmas trees, wreaths and garland can become dry and therefore extremely dangerous around candles and faulty electrical light sources. Thoroughly inspect all decorations before installation and never operate the lights while you are away from the home or sleeping. Over-burdened and improperly installed extension cords and surge protectors are also fire hazards. Keeping the tree watered and away from ignition sources is the best practice.

We should all learn and practice the following three fire safety steps, which can become true life saving techniques. First, remind your family to ALWAYS drop to the floor if a fire starts to avoid smoke. If clothing ignites, immediately roll around flat on the floor to extinguish flames.

Second, teach your family to crawl through the smoke. The head should be kept down low and the hands in front of the body in order to feel the way through smoke impaired vision.

Finally, make sure that all members of your family know their escape route from all areas of the house. Have a pre-designated meeting place outside of the house. Practice that routine over and over. It's worth it to run several "pretend" drills with your family throughout the winter to re-emphasize the steps.

Sheriff Butler reminds everyone to take these precautions and make this holiday season a joyous and fire-free one. For more information about fire safety, contact the Cumberland County Fire Marshal's Office at (910) 678-7640.

For more information on the news release, you may contact Stephanie Hardy, Public Information Officer at Phone: (910) 677-5487 Pager: (910) 677-4313 Fax: (910) 677-5558

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