COVINGTON -- A Newton County family is safe thanks to being awakened by their home smoke alarm around 11:30 Monday night, according to the Newton County Fire Service.
Fire Safety Educator Lt. Cydnie Taylor-Ridling said the family lives on Hazelhurst Drive on the west side of the county and awoke to find their home filled with smoke.
"The culprit was hot ashes placed in a cardboard box and left in the garage," Taylor-Ridling said.
Damage to the home was minimal and the homeowner had used two fire extinguishers to douse the smoldering ashes before firefighters arrived. Once on the scene, NCFS firefighters took over to remove the smoke from the home and monitored the situation to make sure there was no further danger posed from the fire spreading.
Taylor-Ridling said this is another good example of how smoke alarms can save lives and said she would remind homeowners of the dangers posed by hot ashes both in the home and outside.
She suggested the following tips from the Georgia Forestry Commission as a safety checklist:
-- Store ashes in a metal container that can be tightly closed with a metal lid. Dump ashes into the container. Douse the ashes with water. Place the lid on the container and place the closed container outside your home away from combustible materials. Leave ashes in the container for several days before disposing of them. Wood ash, once completely cooled, can safely be disposed.
-- DO NOT store your metal ash container on your deck, in your garage or in any location that may allow heat to transfer from those hot coals to nearby flammable items.
-- DO NOT place hot ashes in a dumpster. There are certainly other combustible materials already in the dumpster.
-- DO NOT dispose of ashes in paper, plastic or cardboard containers.
-- DO NOT assume the ashes are cold and pour them onto the ground (even into a hole) where leaves can blow onto them or the wind can stir up sparks. Once you are POSITIVE your container of ashes is "cold," place in a pile and prepare your container for the next load.
-- Teach other family members about the dangers associated with hot ash disposal.
-- Be careful with ashes around areas you might not consider as combustible during wetter times, such as mulched flowerbeds and lawns that are drought stricken.
Also, the GFC reminds homeowners that ashes can be used as fertilizer. They produce 50 to 70 percent lime and contain phosphorus, potash and trace elements. Gardeners can raise the soil's pH by applying wood ash to their soil.
Caution should be taken to avoid altering the pH too drastically. A soil sample should be taken prior to the addition of wood ashes to your garden spot. If the soil pH value is below 5.8 and there is a lime recommendation on the soil test, then place a dusting of wood ash on the surface and work it into the soil.
Ashes may be used as a repellent. Sprinkle ashes beside row crops and on paths through the garden to discourage slugs and snails.
For more information, go to www.gfc.state.ga.us.