Shenandoah County fire officials offer winter safety tips

Published: Jan. 9, 2022 at 7:04 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 9, 2022 at 7:19 PM EST
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WOODSTOCK, Va. (WHSV) - As we head deeper into winter, fire officials in Shenandoah County want to remind people of fire safety tips, as they often see a number of heater-related fires this time of year.

“This time of year is always tough for us because you’re running stuff with Christmas trees, people are firing up their heat, they forget to check their smoke detector batteries, forget to check their carbon monoxide alarms, so we run a lot of that this time of year,” said Lieutenant Derrick Dotson, assistant fire marshal with Shenandoah County Fire and Rescue.

Officials said a number of fires this time of year are started by heaters in homes, especially when people don’t maintain them.

“Things that can catch fire really easily, you wanna keep those away from your heaters. The other thing that you wanna do is make sure that you electric heaters are plugged into actual outlets, not into extension cords that can overload the extension cord causing fires,” said Dotson.

“Just make sure that your heaters are maintained and cleaned and that filters are cleaned out,” Assistant Fire Chief Grant Pearson with the Woodstock Volunteer Fire Department said.

Officials also stress the importance of conducting routine checks of your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure that they’re working properly.

“People may not realize that if you do remodels, painting, things like that, certain chemicals can affect the sensors, so that’s always something we recommend if you’re going to a big remodel or you get real dusty conditions that can affect them. But, most of the time it’s just changing batteries,” said Dotson.

Dotson said a good habit is to check your smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries every time you change your clock batteries.

One other issue that can cause house fires this time of year is the build up of creosote in homes with chimneys.

Creosote is the highly flammable, dark brown substance that coats chimney walls when smoke and vapor from a fire condense as they move from the fireplace or wood stove into the chimney.

“Cleaning out your chimneys is very important. A lot of people may not do that,” said Pearson. “A lot of people forget to clean out their chimneys this time of year, or this is when they find out that they need to be cleaned,” added Dotson.

The departments ask anyone with fire safety questions or concerns about their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to give them a call.

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