LAWRENCEVILLE -- With all the beauty winter can bring, it can also present several dangers for residents, firefighters and motorists.
Gwinnett County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Thomas Rutledge said fire crews responded to 129 structure fires in December, more than usual.
While not all of those were related to the season or home heating sources, Rutledge said, many were. And they could have been prevented.
"Home heating is a leading cause of residential fires in Gwinnett County," Rutledge said.
Colder temperatures and subsequent increased risk of house fires have firefighters gearing up for a busy winter season.
People dispose of fireplace ashes in plastic trash cans. They operate fireplaces without opening the dampers and don't follow directions when operating space heaters.
Just taking a few common-sense safety measures can go a long way in staying safe.
And for the firefighters battling winter fires, the elements can present additional problems.
At a blaze Sunday at a Norcross apartment complex, crews found themselves in a tussle with Mother Nature, too.
As temperatures hovered below freezing just after 10 a.m., water froze on ladder rungs, firefighter gear and hose connections.
"It poses a challenge but firefighters continue to do their jobs," Rutledge said. "Wearing 40 pounds of extra gear and climb ladders with ice on the rungs ... nobody likes to be cold."
With snow potentially in the forecast, the Governor's Office of Highway Safety is also reminding motorists to "slow down and live" as roads and highways become more treacherous.
Jim Shuler, GOHS public affairs director, said Rule No. 1 is a no-brainer: If you don't have to go out, don't.
"This isn't the blizzard of the century, so save yourself unnecessary trips to stock up on beef jerky and flapjacks," he said in a release. "Stay home where it's warm and you won't take a chance crashing on icy roads or being stranded in the cold."