The Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) urges Tennesseans to focus on home fire safety during what has traditionally been the worst week for fire-related incidents in the state, the second week of January.
SFMO data shows that Tennessee has averaged 3.6 fire deaths during the second week of January since 2010. 29 in eight years.
This is the highest number of fire deaths for any week of the year and is nearly double the rate of the average week.
In Tennessee, nearly half all fatal fires occur between November and February. When the temperature drops below 32 degrees Tennesseans are 40 percent more likely to have a home fire. For temperatures below 15 degrees, Tennesseans are twice as likely to have a fire.
Heating fires are a major reason for the increase in fires and fire deaths. SFMO data indicates that 37.7 percent of fatal heating fires may have been caused by electric space heaters. The second leading possible source was wood stoves.
The SFMO encourages Tennesseans to utilize the following safety precautions to avoid common winter fire hazards and help prevent fire-related deaths:
- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from a furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
- Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
- Check electrical cords for space heaters and other appliances to make sure they are not frayed or damaged.
- Never use your oven to heat your home.
- Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
- Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
- Install smoke alarms on every level of the home, including the basement.
- Replace smoke alarms that are 10 years old or older.
- Make a home fire escape plan. Have two ways out of every room in the home if possible and a designated outside meeting place.