According to Lt. Dotti Payne of the Gordon County Fire Department, reading the instructions on gadgets and appliances could prevent incorrect usage and potential house fires.
It’s just one of many simple tips that fire departments across the nation are promoting during Fire Prevention Week, which begins on Sunday.
On Thursday, Payne and her fellow fire fighters visited third graders at Redbud Elementary to promote fire prevention.
“Things we try to teach people are to be aware of your surroundings, don’t leave your stove unattended, make sure you take pans with grease off the stove,” she said. “It’s the small things that can happen.”
Helping area residents formulate a plan in the event of a fire emergency is a crucial aspect of Payne’s job. She and her teammates go to area schools and organizations and teach kids and adults alike about the importance of fire safety. A similar program exists at the Calhoun Fire Department as well.
They encourage people not to play with matches or leave stoves unattended and to use the stop drop and roll method in the event they become engulfed in flames.
One of the biggest things Payne stresses is keeping the batteries changed in smoke detectors. Most smoke detectors generally “beep” or “chirp” when the battery is dying. Payne encourages residents not to ignore the warnings, but to stop what they’re doing and immediately replace the batteries.
Those are some of the more well known aspects of fire safety, but in a world dependent upon technology, some other methods for fire prevention have become critical, Payne said.
She warns against leaving a laptop computer on a couch or table top, especially if it is plugged into a wall outlet because there is a potential for fire from malfunctioning batteries, for example.
Also, she urges residents not to rely on extension cords to power devices around the clock.
“An extension cord is a temporary power source only,” Payne said.
Residents should never run a large appliance like a refrigerator off of an extension cord, she said. For such appliances, they should be plugged directly into the appropriate wall outlet.
She also recommends keeping clothes and debris away from hot water heaters and to avoid using those types of appliances like shelves.
Payne encouraged residents to use surge protectors, but added that only the correct appliances and devices should be connected. Again, read the instructions.
Chemicals should always be stored properly and fire extinguishers should be a part of the kitchen décor.
As colder months approach, some people will turn to space heaters for warmth. Payne advises residents to keep those heaters clear of curtains and furniture. Parents are encouraged to keep their children at a safe distance from the heater at all times.
Officials also encourage residents to make sure they have a plan of escape in the event of a fire.
“Many times when we speak to residents who have experienced a fire in their home, they recall becoming confused and disoriented by the conditions and severity of the situation – but they realized they needed to get out fast,” Ralph Hudgens, Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner, said in a press release.
“Sometimes there are only seconds to escape, but there’s no question that having a plan in place that has been practiced saves precious time and makes survival more likely. We hope that Fire Prevention Week will prompt Georgians to plan and practice their escape.”
For more fire prevention tips, visit www.nfpa.org.