The Smith County Communications Office strives to promote transparency by providing the public with the most accurate, accessible and up-to-date information possible while promoting the county's brand and message of "Striving for Excellence."
Located on the first floor of the Smith County Annex Building
200 E. Ferguson, Suite 100
Tyler, Texas 75702
Email: Casey Murphy
Winter Fire Prevention Tips
The Smith County Fire Marshal’s Office is seeing an increase in house fires and offers tips for residents to stay safe this winter and holiday season.
“Structure fire season has started,” Fire Marshal Jay Brooks said. “Once the weather turns colder, we see an increase in house fires, primarily because of the use of space heaters. Statistically speaking, in Smith County, the busiest month in terms of total structure fires is January, which accounts for nearly 12.5 percent of the year’s fires.”
Half of the home heating fires occur in December, January and February. Heating equipment is involved in one in every seven reported home fires, and one in every five home fire deaths, according to FEMA and the U.S. Fire Administration.
Here are a few tips to avoid house fires during the winter months:
- Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from any heat sources, such as fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators or space heaters.
- Install and test carbon monoxide alarms at least once a month.
- Plug only one heat-producing appliance, such as a space heater, into an electrical outlet at a time.
- Have a qualified professional clean and inspect your chimney and vents every year.
- Store cooled ashes in a tightly covered metal container and keep it outside at least 10 feet away from your home or any nearby buildings.
Holiday decorations can increase your risk for a home fire.
More than half of the home fires in December are started by candles. The top three days for candle fires are Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that burns.
Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are dangerous. On average, one of every 45 reported home Christmas tree fires resulted in death, according to FEMA and the U.S. Fire Administration.
A heat source too close to the Christmas tree causes one in every four winter fires.
As you deck the halls this season, be fire smart. Here are a few tips:
- Read the manufacturer’s instructions for the number of light strands to connect.
- Make sure your tree is at least 3 feet away from a heat source like fireplaces, radiators, space heaters, candles or heat vents. Also, make sure your tree does not block exits.
- Get rid of your tree after Christmas or when it is dry.
Portable generators can also be hazardous when not used properly. Here are some tips for staying safe while using a generator:
- Use portable generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas, away from all doors, windows and vents.
- Make sure you have carbon monoxide alarms in your home.
- Do not use a generator in a wet area, as it can cause shock or electrocution.
- Connect appliances to the generator with heavy-duty extension cords.
- Do not fuel your generator when it is running. Spilling gas on a hot engine can cause a fire.