Fire & Crime Prevention

Reduce cool-weather fire risk

There are plenty of ways to stop a fire from starting

Plenty of things heat up when the temperature drops, including the risk for fire hazards. As people increase reliance on fireplaces, stoves, heating systems, candles and even electric lights this time of year, the chances for a home fire expand.
Fires are not to be taken lightly. Home fires not only destroy hard-earned property, but can easily claim your life or the lives of your loved ones.

Following these tips will not fully protect your home from a fire, but will diminish the chances of a sudden blaze immensely.

Cooking
Home heating fires peak during the early evening hours between 6-8 p.m. Not surprisingly, this is a prime time to be spending in the kitchen preparing dinner; however, there are easy-to-follow tips to keep your home safe from cooking fires.
• Never leave cooking food unattended. It can take mere seconds for a fire to ignite.
• Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stove or other appliances that generate heat.
• Clean regularly to prevent grease buildup.
• Make sure appliances are turned off before leaving the room or going to bed.

Heating
The National Fire Protection Association warns that heating is the second leading cause of U.S. home fires, deaths and injuries. The NFPA offers these safety guidelines.
• Install heating appliances according to manufacturer’s instructions or have a professional do the installation.
• Fuel-burning equipment needs to vent to the outside.
• Never use an oven to heat a home.
• Keep anything that can burn away from heating equipment, including portable space heaters.
• Clean and inspect heating appliances regularly.
• Turn off portable heaters when leaving the room or going to bed.

Electric
The National Safety Council estimates that between 600 and 1,000 people die each year from electrocution. Electricity also can contribute to home fires. The Energy Education Council offers these safety suggestions.
• Never force plugs into outlets.
• Check that cords are not frayed or cracked. Do not run cords under carpets or place in high-traffic areas.
• Use extension cords only on a temporary basis.
• Make sure light bulbs are the proper wattage for fixtures.
• Install ground fault circuit interrupters in kitchens, baths, laundry rooms and elsewhere and test regularly.


• Check periodically for loose wall receptacles and loose wires. Listen for popping or sizzling sounds behind walls.

Central Heating/Cooling Units
After a particularly lengthy summer in Giles County, central heating and cooling units have worked overtime to ensure we were comfortable in our homes. It is a good idea to get your unit serviced as we enter into the cold season.

“I want to stress the importance of maintaining your central units,” Pulaski Fire Chief Don Collins said. “We’ve had a long summer. When you have a long summer, central cooling units burn out. It is important to maintain your units by professionals, especially if they’re over 10 years old. The older the unit, the more likely it is to have problems.”

Burning
Another thing to keep in mind when thinking of fire safety is to ensure you know your local burning laws.
For example, residents inside the city of Pulaski are not allowed to burn anything at all due to the hazards of fire spreading.

“Do not burn anything within city limits,” Collins continued. “It is against the law and can cause a lot of harm.”
Make sure you check with your city or county fire safety professionals to learn about your fire safety regulations.

—Staff Reports

Protect Your Property While Home or Away

• Trim back trees and shrubs around walkways, doors and windows to eliminate cover for potential intruders.

• Use landscape lighting to illuminate and protect your property, and install motion-detecting lighting around home entry points. 

• Build a neighborhood network. A community watch group, or simply getting to know your neighbors, is an effective way to raise awareness of any suspicious activity in the area. 

• Place a hold on mail and newspaper delivery services while you’re on vacation. 

• Ask a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on things and pick up any deliveries or flyers from your doorstep while you’re away. Consider leaving a spare key with that neighbor in case of emergency. 

• Use your locks, not only on doors and windows, but also on gates, garages and storage sheds. 

• If you have a doorbell, minimize the volume while you’re on vacation. Anyone casing your home will be unsure if you’re not home or simply didn’t hear it. 

• Post warnings like “beware of dog” or a home security sign in your yard or on your fence.  

• Don’t advertise your upcoming vacation on social media, and delay posting photos until you’ve returned to
your home. 

• If you keep an automatic garage door opener in your vehicle while it’s parked outside the garage, keep it locked and out of sight in the glove compartment.  

• Use curtains and blinds for privacy, particularly at night when it’s easier to see inside your home.

• Install lighting timers to give the appearance of activity inside your home while on vacation or out for the night. 

• Consider installing a home security system. Doorbell cameras and wireless security cameras can be installed yourself. 

Safeguard Yourself

If you are inside your home and hear an intruder trying to break in… 

1. Make it clear you are home by yelling or flashing lights, and immediately grab your phone. Most burglars are looking for an empty home. 

2. If you suspect an intruder is inside your home, and you cannot safely exit, get to a room with a door and lock it.

3. Call 911 and immediately state your name and address for the operator as clearly as possible.

4. Tell the operator that someone is in your house, and remain on the line for further instruction.

At Home

• Be wary of anyone who approaches your home as a solicitor, and install a chain lock as an added measure of security. 

• Be alert when entering or exiting your home,
keeping an eye out for anyone or anything suspicious. 

• If you have workers inside your home, check the locks on all of your home’s windows, including the bathroom, at the end of each day.

Here’s what to do in the event of a home break-in:

If you arrive home and suspect a break-in has occurred:

• Do not enter the residence. The intruder may still be inside, or you may disturb evidence.

• Call the police for assistance, and file a police report.

• Contact your insurance company within 24 hours.

Around Town

• Stay aware of your surroundings. Headphones and texting can increase your vulnerability. 

• Avoid deserted areas and parking lots, and walk in well-lighted areas at night.

• Employ the buddy system when walking at night whenever possible.

In the Car

• Have your keys in hand before reaching your car, and check your surroundings before unlocking it. 

• Once inside your car, lock the doors, start the engine and cautiously exit the parking spot without delay. 

• If you feel you are being followed, or if somebody “taps” your bumper when driving at night, drive to the nearest gas station or populated spot. Flash your lights and honk your horn if needed to get the attention of people around you before getting out of your car.

Online

• Install an antivirus software on your computer, and keep it up to date. 

• Use long passwords with a mix of characters, and update passwords every three to six months. 

• Periodically check your credit reports for evidence of identity theft. Federal law entitles consumers to free copies of their credit report each year, and many banks and credit card companies provide customers with ongoing access to credit scores for free.