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Fire Service urges citizens to avoid fire hazards

COVINGTON -- The Newton County Fire Service is warning residents as the weather gets cooler and home heating is called for, reports of fire usually increase.

"We've had two chimney fires the last few days," NCFS Fire Safety Educator Cydni Taylor said. "Everyone should have a professional check their heating systems and chimneys before they begin using them in the fall."

Taylor said the system may have worked fine at the end of last season, but things could have changed during the intervening months.

"Something as simple as an animal making a nest inside a flue or chimney during the spring or summer can make a difference. Even a bird's nest can create a fire hazard," she cautioned.

Taylor said the fire service usually sees an increased number of calls beginning in October due to the lifting of the outside burn ban, which traditionally runs from April to October. It is still necessary, however, to get a burn permit anytime an outside fire will be set.

"We see folks not fully extinguishing their fires or hot coals and when the wind gets up, it becomes a fire that can quickly get out of control," she said.

October is National Fire Safety Month and in recognition of that, Taylor offered a list of 10 fire prevention tips:

According to the National Fire Prevention Association, the No. 1 cause of household fires is cooking fires. Never leave food unattended.

Make sure your house number is visible from the street so the fire department can accurately find your house.

The very first thing to do when you suspect a fire is to get out of the house. Be prepared and have a plan in place, practice fire escape drills at home at least twice a year.

Lint build-up in the dryer can cause a fire. Empty the lint screen before and after each use. Just double check.

If your clothes catch on fire, cover your face and STOP, DROP and ROLL. Roll back and forth until it goes out.

Change the batteries in your smoke detector when you change the clocks at Daylight Saving Time or change them now. All smoke detectors 10 years old should be replaced.

Discard or replace all frayed electrical wires. Never run wires under rugs.

Keep matches and lighters out of sight and out of reach of curious children. Educate your children on the consequences of playing with fire.

Do not smoke in bed and properly extinguish all smoking materials.

Never leave a lit candle unattended.