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Public Safety: Don’t Get Burned

Follow These Tips To Prevent House Fires 

By Lisa M. Grisham, CPSTI 

Cherokee County continues to experience a substantial number of structure fires. From January-October 2022, Cherokee County Fire & Emergency Services (CCFES) responded to 71 structure fires, which does not include the seasonal fires that usually occur during the winter months. Some of the causes were smoking, incorrect disposal of fireplace ashes, electrical failure, and unattended candles or space heaters.

Nationally, the 346,800 structure fires that occur each year cause an average of 2,620 civilian deaths and $7.3 billion in direct property damage according to National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA).

What is going on? 

Unfortunately, the answers are not simple. For instance, homes are much less regulated than other structures. Open floor plans and flammable materials allow fire to spread faster than ever before. Furniture is made of synthetic materials that not only burns faster but also creates gasses that can be poisonous to humans. When combined, these issues create a situation where we have only two minutes to escape a fire as compared to eight minutes years ago. We need to understand how these fires happen and how they can be prevented or mitigated. 

“Fire prevention should be a priority for all families, and practicing a home escape plan is an important step to make sure all family members know what to do in this situation,” said Chief Eddie Robinson. 

NFPA says that of the 8% of home fires that started in the bedroom and the 3% that started in the living room, each caused 25% of the home fire deaths. Approximately 35% of those resulted from smoking. Having working smoke alarms can provide valuable escape time. Three out of five home fire deaths resulted from fires where either NO smoke alarm was present, or at least one was present but not functioning. 

What can you do? 

Check your smoke alarm batteries regularly. Even hard-wired alarms have backup batteries. The batteries should be replaced once a year, and the smoke alarm itself should be replaced every 10 years. When replacing your smoke alarms, look for the 10-year lithium battery version. This alleviates the need for changing the battery every year. 

Although we’ve made progress since 1980 (home fires are roughly half of what they were), the death rate has increased by 2%. 

“This is a reminder that most fires are preventable, and we can each make a difference in our own homes and for the community by being alert and practicing prevention efforts,” says Chief Robinson. 

Stay alert, practice home escape plans, check your smoke alarms, practice good cooking habits, don’t smoke in bed, unplug unused appliances, and don’t overload circuits. These are a few simple things you can do to help Cherokee County Fire & Emergency Services prevent disaster and save lives. 

For more information, call 678-493-6290 or visit