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Winter weather leads to fire hazards

Even though the past weekend boasted temperatures that felt more like the beginning of summer than two weeks before Christmas, the past few days have brought on very winterish cold temperatures that have no doubt caused Franklin County residents to break out the heaters and switch the central heating systems on.
While preparing to keep warm this winter, Russellville Fire Capt. Randy Seal warned that residents should be keeping fire safety in mind as well.
“Each year at this time it always seems like w have a spike in fire calls,” Seal said. “Some of these calls are just minor incidents but some end up being house fires or business fires where the people lose everything.
“All it takes is one little spark, and we just want people to be as safe as they possibly can when using things like heaters and candles this winter.”
Seal said one of the biggest reasons calls around this time is due to the dust collected in the central heating ducts over the spring and summer that can catch fire when the heat is eventually turned on.
“This mainly just puts out a lot of smoke through the vents, but you still want to be cautious,” Seal said.
“The best thing to do is to make sure the ducts have been cleaned out and that the filters have been changed. That will prevent any dust from creating a bad situation.”
Seal said another problem in the cold winter months is the use of heaters.
“If you pan on using any type of heater to keep warm this winter, you need to make sure it has been placed in an area that is free of flammable material, such as curtains, pillows, clothing and carpet,” Seal said.
“Heaters should also never be left unattended, which is also what we say about candles. Heater and candles should be cut off or extinguished if someone isn’t in the room to monitor them.
“We also discourage the use of kerosene heaters but I know there are still some people who use them, so if someone happens to be using that type of heater, it needs to be used in an area that is well-ventilated.”
Seal said this is also a good time to test smoke detectors to make sure they are working properly.
“We usually say as a rule of thumb to check your smoke detectors when the time changes in the fall and spring, but it someone missed that in November, they should go ahead and check their smoke detectors now.
“People with working smoke detectors have a much better chance of surviving a house fire because they can be alert to the danger and get out of the house faster.”
If anyone needs help checking their smoke detectors or determining potential fire hazards in their home or business, contact the Russellville Fire Department at 256-332-8761.