Fire officials warn of heating hazards

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fall weather has arrived in Covington County, and as temperatures drop, local fire officials say their call levels usually rise.

“It does normally pick up this time of year,” Andalusia Fire Captain Russell McGlamory said.

McGlamory said fire calls typically increase this time of year because people begin using their heating devices for the first time in months, often without properly servicing their equipment.

“We get a lot of calls this time of year because people are using their heaters for the first time, and when they kick on, you might get some smoke or a bad smell because dust has built up on the heating coils,” McGlamory said. “It’s not necessarily a fire hazard, but it just scares people.”

McGlamory said the fire department also typically gets a large number of calls related to space heaters, adding the calls are usually about avoidable accidents.

“It’s not always necessarily the space heater malfunctioning,” he said. “It’s not uncommon for one to be faulty, but often it is that the space heater was put too close to a bed, or a pillow or something like that fell in front of it. It’s usually more of obstructions in front of the heaters (that cause fires) than the heaters themselves.”

McGlamory said the biggest thing people can do to prevent fires is to properly maintain their heating units.

“Just make sure everything is operating properly before using it,” he said. “If you are using a chimney, make sure it has been cleaned. Maybe get a checkout from a service technician on central heat and air.”

McGlamory also said fire officials recommend changing the batteries in all smoke detectors at least each time the time changes. The time will “fall back” Sun., Nov. 3.

McGlamory also said the fire department would like to discourage people from using alternative heating sources, such as open ovens.