Holiday season brings uptick in house fires

Holiday season brings uptick in house fires

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The colder temperatures and holiday decorations are a sign we have entered the peak season for house fires.

Of those house fires, heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths with nearly half of them happening December through February.

Last week a fire on Johns Island was the result of an overloaded power strip. The Red Cross of South Carolina was there to assist the homeowners.

"Every time we see the temperatures go down this time of year, we often see the number of home fires go up," said Cuthbert Langley, the communications director with the South Carolina Region of the Red Cross.

Langley said this is the time we see an uptick in home fires.

"It's because people are using different heating sources. They have their holiday decorations up so it's always really important to focus on safety this time of year," said Langley.

The uptick isn't just in the Lowcountry, it's seen across the country.

"Nationally we do see a trend that spikes during the holiday season," said Mt. Pleasant Fire Batallion Chief Craig Oliverius.

"We're plugging in decorations, we're doing those sorts of things trying to get as many outlets in those extension cords as we can," Langley said. "That's why it's really important when you're setting up your decorations to be aware of that."

Langley said it's also important to check your instructions on your decorations and your heaters.

"It's often the first thing we throw away, but it's one of the most important things to read," said Langley.

You need to make sure you're using the heater properly by checking the instructions, and make sure it will turn off if it tips over, in addition to making sure other household items are being used safely.

"Simple things like making a change from an open flame candle to LED battery powered," Oliverius said."Turn off your Christmas lights when you leave or go to bed. If you have any strands of lights don't try to repair them just recycle those and buy a new stand of lights."

In addition, the space heaters should always be turned off when you're not in the room with it.

"One statistic that's really important to point out is heating equipment is responsible for one out of every five home fire deaths," Langley said."That's a huge number and that's why it's important to read that instruction manual and know how to operate them."

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