Holiday fire safety tips

14 Nov 2008 | Lance Cpl. Elyssa Quesada

Gathered around an open fire may bring warm thoughts and the laughter of children, but it can be deadly if the fireplace is not properly maintained. This holiday season, Joseph Otterbine, the Lead Fire Inspector at Marine Corps Air Station Structural Fire Rescue Division, urges Lowcountry residents to stay safe, use common sense and be prepared for anything. The holiday season invites people to cook, put on lights and set off fireworks with friends and family, but it is important to make sure safety comes first, said Otterbine. Although the types of accidents vary, the number increases because of the decorations and cooking that Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s bring. The location of the grill is one of the most important factors. It should be kept about 25-feet from any structure. There have been cases where the heat from the grill melts the siding of the house, according to Otterbine. Safety tips for cooking include having a fire extinguisher nearby in case a fire should start and a first aid kit nearby for any unseen accidents. Another safety tip is to wear tight fitting clothes, moving all loose towels and pot holders away from the flames. Fires aren’t just a hazard outdoors, they can be deadly indoors as well. Most indoor fires are linked to unattended cooking in the kitchen, said Otterbine. A combination of working smoke alarms that are tested monthly and practiced planned escape routes lowers the risk of injury, according Otterbine. Fires can be prevented through education and caution of everyone’s surroundings. Make sure matches and flammable objects are kept put away and out of reach from children. Adults should be patient when lighting fireworks and children should always be supervised. Whether it’s a string of Black Cats or a handful of sparklers, improper handling could lead to injury. Otterbine encourages everyone to assess the situation, consider the options and take appropriate action.