Chatham Emergency Services Update

By Carey Ruppert -
Chief, Skidaway Division

Cold Weather Worries

As the year progresses and temperatures drop, a couple situations routinely occur that cause alarm for some residents. Their heating system is turned on for the first time and they smell something burning, or they notice what looks like smoke rising from a frost-covered roof. Both situations happen normally, and both have a simple, non-hazardous explanation. Hopefully, being forewarned will help prevent alarm if either of these situations happen to you.

First, let’s talk about that funny, acrid, burning smell coming from the vents when the heating system turns on. When your furnace is not used for a long period of time, dust can collect on the heat exchanger and in the air ducts. It is normal for that dust to burn off when the heater is turned on for the first time and is not a cause for concern. To prevent unnecessary alarm when this occurs in the middle of the night, we recommend you turn your heat on during the day to test the system before it’s needed. If the burning smell persists or gets stronger, call Chatham Fire (912 355-6688).

Second, let’s discuss the phenomenon of smoke rising from a frost-covered roof. The frost that covers our roofs during the winter is an accumulation of tiny ice crystals formed from frozen water vapor. When those accumulated ice crystals are rapidly warmed, visible steam is often produced. Most “smoking roof” calls we receive are early in the morning when the rising sun lights up a frosty roof. If the smoke you see is emanating from an area of the roof that is sunlit and the roof in the shade is still frost-covered, you probably are seeing steam, not smoke. As with the heating system smell, if the situation persists, or the smoke increases in volume and you notice other signs of fire, call us (912-355-6688).

 Something else occurs when the weather gets cold, and the Holidays arrive…SANTA CLAUS COMES TO SKIDAWAY ISLAND! Santa will be escorted throughout Skidaway Island by our firefighters on Saturday December 18 and Sunday December 19. Please watch for emails detailing more information.


This article was originally published by The Landings Association on their website.

Visit to read the original article.