Expert offers tips for preventing holiday fires

Published 12:37 pm Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Along with the joy of the holiday season comes a long list of fire hazards.

Safety tips offered by Clanton Fire Department Chief David Driver are simple and easy to follow, but the consequences of not guarding against fire can be deadly. And sometimes, tragedies still seem to strike with no warning.

One such case was the death of Dallen Coggins, who perished when his home burned the night of Nov. 16.

Coggins was home with his father, Heath Coggins, and siblings, 9-year-old Addison and 4-year-old Gavin, when their trailer caught fire. The others were able to escape.

The family still isn’t sure what caused the fire, though an appliance is thought to be to blame, according to Regina Coggins, who was working at The Clanton Advertiser at the time of the incident.

“There was absolutely nothing left,” Regina Coggins said. “It looked like it exploded.”

The home was located off County Road 374 near Enterprise Road.

Other injuries sustained in the blaze have healed or are healing, but the family is still in need of some basic household supplies including towels, washcloths, laundry detergent and cleaning supplies.

Donations can be dropped off at the Advertiser. Monetary donations could also be left at the Advertiser (1109 Seventh St. N. in Clanton, or P.O. Box 1379, Clanton) or made payable to Martin Funeral Home to help pay for Dallen Coggins’ funeral services.

Prevention advice

A common cause of winter fires are electric heaters. If using one, Driver encourages residents to follow all manufacturer’s warnings, including how far to keep the heater away from combustible materials such as clothing and bedsheets.

Driver said people should not use any device that has frayed cords or wires. Also, extension cords shouldn’t be used for extended periods of time.

“Using an extension cord for something like vacuuming is fine, but you don’t need to use an extension cord for something you’re going to have plugged in for a long period of time,” Driver said.

Chimneys should be kept clean, and doors on the front of fireplaces should be kept closed so that embers don’t escape and ignite carpet or furniture.

Christmas decorations add an extra layer of danger onto many people’s homes.

Driver said people should make sure all Christmas lights are in good working order before they are put up, and live Christmas trees should be watered regularly because dry trees can catch on fire easily.

Smoke detectors should be tested once a week regardless of the time of year. Also, carbon monoxide detectors are recommended for homes using gas furnaces.