Fire Safety Articles
From: Office of the State Fire Marshall Filed 12/01/06
With severe cold weather forecast this week, Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal George Dale today urged citizens to exercise caution when using portable heating devices. Mississippi is among the leading states in the nation in fire deaths, averaging between 85 and 95 deaths a year.
"During any period of cold weather I urge all Mississippians to use extreme caution with any portable heating device," said Dale.The State Fire Marshal's Office cautions everyone with heating appliances to only use UL (Underwriters Laboratory) approved appliances as recommended by the manufacturers. The State Fire Marshal's Office also strongly discourages the use of candles as heating devices.
Everyone is encouraged to have and use working smoke detectors in the home. Be sure to replace batteries at least every three months. Also have an emergency evacuation plan for the family to follow and have a designated meeting place for all family members. Once everyone is outside the burning home, DO NOT RE-ENTER THE HOUSE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!!!
For more information visit the State Fire Marshal's Office webpage on the Mississippi Insurance Department Website at www.doi.state.ms.us.
Fire safety important as winter approaches
Friday, December 01, 2006
PASCAGOULA -- A looming cold spell and a recent fatal fire that killed two young children has fire protection experts pushing safety and prevention measures this winter.
The winter months, December through February, are considered the deadliest in terms of fires by the National Fire Protection Association, and the U.S. Fire Administration reports that more than 4,000 Americans died in fires each year, with another 20,000 injured in fires.
On Monday, a fire in Moss Point claimed the lives of Keyshawn Burts, 2, and his 3-year-old brother Phillip Burts Jr. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
With temperatures expected to drop into the 30s by Sunday and below freezing Monday, Billy Whittington, a senior instructor with the Mississippi Fire Academy, said careful planning can prevent similar tragedies.
"Kerosene heaters should not be used inside where there is no ventilation. What happens is carbon monoxide fumes will build up in the house. If no one has a monitor and they go asleep, levels can get high and people can suffocate and die from carbon monoxide poising," said Whittington.
Whittington also said the elderly are vulnerable during cold weather.
"What they tend to do is get real close to the heater because they can't get warm. They will take a shawl or a throw blanket and put it over them," he said.
The materials can easily catch fire. Whittington said the closest one should get to a heating device is three feet.
To prevent house fires, the USFA recommends:
Every house have a working smoke alarm.
Not overloading electrical circuits or extension cords.
Keeping chimneys cleaned.
Teaching children that fire is not a toy.
Not smoking in bed.
Whittington said electric heaters should have a thermostat and once the heater reaches a certain temperature, it should automatically shut off.
"Without a thermostat, it will continue to heat. It can overheat, short out and possibly cause a fire," he said.
Whittington said homemakers should also make sure that circuit breakers are not overloaded, particularly during this time of year when Christmas lights are in use.
"Homeowners want to make sure they have someone check their chimney on an annual basis before lighting any fires in it. A lot of people have burned fires but it hasn't been a continuous burn for days," he said.
Whittington also said a stove should not be used for heating purposes and if candles are used, it should be placed in a metal pan to prevent fire in even of a spill.
As Mississippi braces for its first taste of winter, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it has winterized 31,000 temporary housing units in the state.
Maintenance teams have applied special protective measures to reinforce water hoses and examined the electric heat strips of each unit.
FEMA encourages residents to make sure propane tanks are full and if the water hose to the unit has been insulated, make sure the electric heat strip is plugged into the outlet on the side of the unit.
If the water hose to the unit has not yet been insulated, consider letting a trickle of water run at night to prevent freeze-up.