Staying fire safe this holiday amid an increase in fire fatalities in Charleston Co.

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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – North Charleston fire officials have important fire safety tips this holiday season. This comes as officials report an increase in fire fatalities this year, compared to last year.

Laura Kondor is the Fire and Life Safety Educator for the North Charleston Fire Department. She said this year there have been nine fire fatalities in Charleston County compared to two last year.

She said during the holiday season, they see an increase in fire calls. According to Kondor, many of these holiday fires are caused by electrical hazards and candles, but the main cause is from cooking.

“We want you to stay in the kitchen when you’re actively cooking,” said Kondor.

She said it’s important to keep the cooking area clear and keep children and animals out of the kitchen.

“If you do happen to have a kitchen fire, the best thing to fight the fire with is going to be a fire extinguisher. You could also put a pot lid on top of it, a cookie sheet,” she said. “If you have an oven fire, don’t open the oven, just keep the door closed, smother the fire and always call 911.”

As for candles, Kondor recommends choosing the battery-operated versions, especially around kids and pets.

When it comes to electrical safety, Kondor said major appliances should be plugged directly into an outlet, not an extension cord. Electrical wires and strings of lights should be checked for any malfunctions. Officials said live Christmas trees should also be watered daily and disposed of almost immediately after the holidays.

“If you don’t water it properly almost every single day, the Christmas tree becomes very dry and brittle and it becomes almost like a firewood you would have for your fireplace or for your outside fire pit,” Kondor explained. “So, you have an increased chance of it catching fire from the electrical lights you put on the Christmas tree.”

She also advises people to unplug their lights and appliances before leaving home.

In general, Kondor said to have working smoke alarms in every bedroom, hallway, and major living space. Also, come up with an emergency escape plan in the event of a fire.

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