MEDIA RELEASE - State Fire Marshal’s Office Sends Safety Warning Ahead of Cold Weather

1/6/2017

 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jan. 5, 2017
State Fire Marshal’s Office Sends Safety Warning Ahead of Cold Weather
 
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Heating-related fires are the leading cause of home fire deaths, and that has prompted a safety warning from the West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office with the advent of cold weather.

West Virginia ended the calendar year of 2016 with 56 fire-related deaths, a number higher than the previous two years. Nearly half of those deaths were of people above the age of 65. You are twice as likely to die in a fire at the age of 65 or older. West Virginia has an aging population, with many seniors on a fixed income.  Improper heating sources increasingly become a problem when we face cold temperatures like the ones in our forecast.

State Fire Marshal Ken Tyree says, “Reaching out to our high-risk population and ensuring their safety through smoke alarm installations and overall safety checks is imperative in lowering the loss of life we are seeing. Reducing the risk of death and injury is the top priority, and by working together through various partners we want to provide the best information and safe practices for everyone.”

According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), half of all home heating equipment fires are reported during the months of December, January, and February. Half of those home heating fire deaths resulted from fires that started when something flammable was too close to the heating equipment.

NFPA offers several tips you can follow to ensure a safe and cozy winter:
• Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or other space heater.
• Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
• Never use your oven to heat your home.
• Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
• Test smoke alarms monthly.
• Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
• Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room, and burn only dry, seasoned wood. Allow ashes to cool before disposing of in a metal container that is kept a safe distance from the home.
• Make sure all fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Install and maintain carbon monoxide (CO) alarms.
• Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
 
If you need assistance with smoke alarm installations, contact the American Red Cross as it continues its efforts to install free smoke alarms. You can also reach out to your local fire departments. More safety information on heating and general fire safety can be found on our website, www.firemarshal.wv.gov.
 
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Contact:

Courtney Rosemond
(304) 558-2191 ext. 53205
Courtney.A.Rosemond@wv.gov