Nothing increases firewood sales quite like dropping temperatures.
Donnie Brown, the owner of Brown Feed and Seed on Washington Road in Evans, says his sudden burst of firewood sales tells him it is officially fall.
Brown said he attributes the increase to local weathermen - they predicted near-freezing temperatures for last weekend. By Oct. 11, Brown said he had already sold or taken orders for several racks of firewood, nearly a half-cord each.
Michelle Chance, a seasons department sales associate at Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse in Martinez, said the store has stocked bundled firewood and related heating equipment for more than a month, with no overwhelming firewood sales, but the prediction of low temperatures sent folks searching for heating supplies and equipment.
"When the temperatures start dropping, they come flying in here," Chance said. "They are in here buying the logs, gas heaters, electric heaters. Just a little bit of chill, they are running in here afraid they are going to freeze."
As temperatures drop, a few simple precautions can keep residents safe as they fire up fireplaces and other heating devices, said Battalion Chief Danny Kuhlmann, of Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue.
Cold weather signals a rash of fires associated with home heating, which is the leading cause of fire during the fall and winter months, Kuhlmann said.
"The first thing is to have the heating unit checked by a certified company," Kuhlmann said, adding that firefighters can look at a fireplace and chimney to see whether it is clean, but cannot certify a chimney inspection.
"People need to fire it up like on the weekend before it starts to get cold with the windows open to burn all the dust out of it," Kuhlmann said.
Every home should be equipped with properly maintained and functioning smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, Kuhlmann said. The detectors are the first line of defense against fire, smoke and carbon monoxide.
Carbon monoxide can be produced from a furnace, stove, water heater or fireplace, anything in the home that has a flame. Carbon monoxide can't be seen and is odorless. As it builds up within the body, Kuhlmann said, carbon monoxide can cause headaches, nausea, cherry red skin, unconsciousness and eventually death.
Kuhlmann said he expects to see a rise in chimney fires and home-heating related fires with the temperatures dropping. Space heaters are often the cause of such fires.
"People need to leave 36 inches all the way around them," Kuhlmann said, warning that space heaters can ignite draperies, furniture and other items placed too close to the heater.
The fire department, Kuhlmann said, does perform fire safety inspections, in which firefighters go into a home and identify potential problem areas. For an inspection, contact Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue at (706) 863-7745.
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