Releases @ TCC
TCC EXPERT WARNS
OF HOLIDAY FIRE HAZARDS
Coordinator of college’s Fire Science program offers
safety tips for season
ROADS, Va. – (Nov. 28, 2005) – Anyone who thinks the
issue of holiday fire safety is blown out of proportion should
consider this: A fire that starts with a Christmas tree is eight
times more likely to kill you than a fire starting any other way.
“A tree should never be kept up more than two weeks,”
says Richard Dienst, coordinator of the fire science program at
Tidewater Community College. “And if it’s dry, get
rid of it right away.”
The dollar value of material loss with Christmas tree fires is
three times higher than with other fires, Dienst says. That’s
why it’s crucial to check the water in your tree stand daily,
and never burn the branches or needles in a fireplace. For further
proof that Christmas trees are a serious fire risk, visit http://www.usfa.fema.gov/safety/tips/treefir.shtm
and watch a tree fire take out an entire room in 48 seconds.
With 80 percent of all fires occurring in homes, Dienst says it’s
no surprise that fires peak during the holiday season. More people
are home from work, children are out of school, fireplace use
increases, and more cooking occurs – all of which can be
a deadly combination.
Christmas trees are the biggest seasonal culprits, but candles
aren’t far behind. The number of fires started by candles
jumps fourfold over the holidays. If you can’t live without
lighting them, Dienst recommends keeping them under glass and,
of course, away from anything flammable.
Greater use of extension cords is part of the problem, too. “They’re
really for extending the cord of an electrical appliance,”
he explains, “not for increasing the number of appliances
that can run off one outlet.”
The fire risk occurs, Dienst says, when the amount of electricity
flowing through an extension cord exceeds what the cord can handle.
It can’t dissipate the heat fast enough, so its insulation
starts to break down. Worse is running the overloaded cord under
a rug or carpet – then the heat has nowhere to go.
Combine the holidays with cold weather and fire hazards abound.
About 37 percent of all fires happen in winter, with heating appliances
– from space heaters to fireplaces – the number-one
cause. That’s followed by careless and unattended cooking,
the top cause of injuries during a fire. Next are careless smoking
and children playing with matches.
But the easiest way to prevent fires all year long, says Dienst,
is with a working smoke detector. Statistics bear this out: two-thirds
of all residential fires occur in homes without working smoke
So when making a holiday shopping list, remember, “batteries
not included” doesn’t just apply to toys.
Tidewater Community College
is the second largest of the 23 community colleges in the Commonwealth
of Virginia, enrolling more than 36,000 students annually. The 37th
largest in the nation’s 1,600 community-college network, TCC
ranks among the 50 fastest-growing large community colleges. Founded
in 1968 as a part of the Virginia Community College System, the
college serves the South Hampton Roads region with campuses in Chesapeake,
Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach as well as the TCC Jeanne
and George Roper Performing Arts Center in the theater district
in downtown Norfolk, the Visual Arts Center in Olde Towne Portsmouth
and a regional Advanced Technology Center in Virginia Beach. Forty-four
percent of the region’s residents attending a college or university
in Virginia last fall were enrolled at TCC. For more information,