Holiday wreaths help increase fire safety awareness

Q: What is “Keep the Wreath Green” about displayed in front of Cherokee County’s Public Safety building on Chattin Drive in Canton?

A: “Keep the Wreath Green” is a month-long campaign designed to increase fire awareness, prevention and safety through the Cherokee County Fire Department.

Winter and the holidays ramp up the heat, decorating and festivities. The surge goes unnoticed until the unthinkable happens.

“The campaign began with a need to do a public push for people to understand that during this time of year the incidents of fire goes up,” said Lisa Grisham, senior fire safety educator for Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services.

Each illuminated wreath is wrapped with 50 green bulbs. With each structure fire, a green light is replaced by a red bulb, explained Grisham.

“Currently, seven have been changed to red,” said Cherokee County Fire Marshal Chief Chad Arp. “Four of the seven structure fires were preventable.”

Impacted by today’s flammables, Grisham said another concern is that people no longer have 6 – 8 minutes to escape.

“Now it’s only 1 – 2 minutes to get out due to things we now build our homes with and what our furniture is made out of, it incinerates faster,” she said.

Having and practicing a fire escape plan is paramount. Grisham believes that everyone in your home should know the fire escape plan - babysitters, guests and family.

“It’s that muscle memory,” Grisham said. “It’s about actually practicing it so that they understand that if in the middle of the night they are woken up out of their sleep they remember what to do.

“Practicing in both daylight hours and at night when it is dark because it’s a different scenario,” she added.

Included in the campaign is their educational program called “Close before you doze.” That means close your door to your bedroom before you go to sleep.

Having your doors closed at night in the event of a fire can prevent a lot of damage to your home and also give yourself more time to escape.

Once a month test your batteries. Once a year replace your batteries and once a decade replace your smoke alarm as they expire.

The campaign will run through Jan. 1. Seven of the fire stations throughout Cherokee County, including the headquarters on Chattin Drive, are participating.

“I’d like to see others look forward and help increase awareness,” he said. “A reminder of seeing a wreath on their way home and knowing what the wreath is about just might remind one to unplug the tree or blow out that candle.”

For help with smoke detectors or more information, visit www.cherokeecountyfire.org, closeyourdoor.org or call 770/479-5172.

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