SYLACAUGA, Ala. – The Sylacauga Fire Department has already responded to five working structure fires in the past five weeks.

Each fire, with the exception of one still under investigation, was caused by the misuse or careless use of heating appliances. One fire was caused by an electric heater being too close to bed linens, and another was caused by a wood burning fireplace with too much wood left in it before the family went to bed. The fire still under investigation resulted in a fatality.

Fire Chief Adam Gardner gave tips on how to stay safe during the holidays:

  • Remember to be safe with all space heaters and fireplaces. Always keep space heaters at least three feet away from any flammable objects. Never leave your heaters unattended for any amount of time. Always plug your space heaters directly into an outlet, not in an extension cord.
  • Have your chimneys and fireplaces inspected before using them. Do not put too much wood in wood burning fireplaces. If you use a gas heating appliance, make sure you have a working carbon monoxide alarm in your house.
  • Another issue around the holiday season is scented candles. Candles are considered an open flame in the house, and should be treated as such. Never leave a candle unattended. Keep them away from flammable objects such as bed linens and curtains.
  • Also remember to always have working smoke detectors. “You can’t put a price on a life,” said Gardner. “Go buy a smoke detector for $15 that will protect you and your family.”
  • As the Christmas season comes earlier and earlier each year, be cautious when putting up live trees. Chief Gardner warns to not cut down or put up a live tree before Thanksgiving, as they will dry out before then, whether you water it or not. Be sure to water the tree everyday. When the trees dry out, it becomes a fire hazard. With artificial trees, plug the lights directly into a light strip and the light strip directly into an outlet. Do not use extension cords, as they cannot handle the amount of amps that will be plugged into them.

Chief Gardner also said to take down live Christmas trees as soon as possible, so to not have a dried out tree in your home as a fire hazard.

Be smart and safe this holiday season.

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