NASHVILLE, TN – Five Tennesseans lost their lives in home fires over the weekend. Four adults and one child were killed in house fires in Hamblen, Carter, and Henry Counties. Preliminary results of the fire investigations indicate that the fires were accidental in nature. Every day preventable fires happen in Tennessee causing millions of dollars in property damage and in the worst cases, loss of life. The State Fire Marshal’s Office wants individuals across the state to take action and talk to loved ones about fire prevention in the home.
“We are devastated to hear that five people lost their lives this weekend in house fires,” says State Fire Marshal and Commerce and Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “Tennessee continues to occupy a high fire mortality ranking in the United States and the State Fire Marshal’s Office is asking residents to help us change that by making fire prevention a priority in every Tennessee home.”
With colder temperatures come more opportunities for home fires to occur. This season make fire prevention a topic of conversation in your household and talk to your loved ones, both young and old, about the importance of taking fire safety measures.
“The first defense against a potentially fatal fire is making sure your home has working smoke alarms,” says Assistant Commissioner for Fire Prevention Gary West. “Smoke alarms save lives. They are inexpensive and can make all the difference in a house fire.”
Read the following tips to make sure you are taking the necessary precautions to protect your home and loved ones from fire.
- Make sure your home has a working smoke alarm. Working smoke alarms can double your chances of survival during a home fire by providing an early alert. Install at least one alarm on every level of your home, including the basement. For best protection, install an alarm inside and outside every sleeping room.
- Don’t overload circuits or extension cords. Avoid placing cords under rugs, over nails, or in high traffic areas of the home.
- Major and small appliances should be plugged directly into a wall outlet. Never use an extension cord. Unplug small appliances when not in use.
- Turn portable heaters off when you go to bed or leave a room.
- Keep anything that can burn, including bedding, clothing, curtains, pets and people at least three feet away from portable heaters.
- Plug portable heaters directly into outlets and never into an extension cord or power strip.
- Clean your chimney and/or vents every year.
- Use only newspaper and kindling wood or fire starters to start a fire. Never use flammable liquids, such as lighter fluid, kerosene, or gasoline, to start a fire. They produce invisible vapors that can easily catch fire.
- Remember to always stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling, or broiling food.
- Develop a home fire escape plan with two ways out of every room and a common outside meeting place. Share and practice the plan with every member of the household.
- If you smoke, smoke outside!
- Never smoke in a home where oxygen is used.
- If your home is on fire, get out and stay out!
For more information on making your home fire-safe, download and print the State Fire Marshal’s home fire safety checklist (http://tn.gov/fire/fsk/documents/checklist.pdf).