State Fire Marshal Stresses Safety
JACKSON – With overnight temperatures expected to drop into the 20’s this week, Commissioner of Insurance and State Fire Marshal Mike Chaney strongly urges the public to be mindful of the fire risks associated with home heating.
“This is the time of year when we see a marked increase in home fires caused by faulty heating equipment or people using ill-advised methods to stay warm,” Chaney said.
Since December 1, there have been five fire deaths in the state. Three additional fire deaths occurred in November. There have been 74 fire deaths this year in Mississippi as compared to 78 at this time in 2009.
“Working smoke alarms can cut the risk of people dying in home fires in half,” Chaney said.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office wants people to take extreme care when choosing a heating source during this week’s cold weather.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office recommends the following cold weather fire safety tips:
• All heating equipment should be UL® approved and cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional prior to being used each year.
• Remember to keep clothes, drapes, and anything else combustible away from all heating equipment.
• Inspect the space heater’s power cord for damage, fraying or heat. If the cord inspection reveals any of these issues, the heater should be replaced. Proper cleaning is essential and should be done regularly.
• Never use space heaters while you sleep, when you are away from home, or in areas where children may be without adult supervision.
• Use only traditional heating equipment.
• Never use a stove or oven to heat living spaces.
• Have chimney flues cleaned and inspected by qualified personnel
• Burn only approved materials in a fire place or wood burning stove; never burn paper or trash in a fireplace or wood burning stove.
• Have an emergency evacuation plan for the family to follow should a fire break out in the home.Once everyone is outside the burning home, call 911 and do not re-enter the house under any circumstances.
Put Safety First When Selecting A Christmas Tree
The Mississippi State Department of Health encourages everyone to make sure their home is safe during the holidays by taking a few simple precautions before, during and after the celebration.
Following the guidelines below can help to make your holiday season merry, bright and safe.
Take proper precautions when selecting a tree
Be sure that it is safe to decorate your Christmas tree with lights before you do so. Christmas trees, even artificial ones, can be a source of fires in the home, but with the proper safety precautions your risk can be minimized.
• If you prefer a live tree, make sure you pick one that is fresh. The individual needles should not bend or break between the fingers if pulled from the branch. The branches should not lose many needles if you pick up and shake the tree. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard. The stump of the tree should be sticky to the touch. Keep your tree supplied with plenty of water while it is displayed.
• If you are buying an artificial tree, be sure that it is marked “fire resistant” before you bring it home for decoration. Under no circumstances should a metallic tree be strung with lights due to potential electrocution hazards.
• Before you begin decorating, place your tree in an area away from fireplaces, furnaces, or open flames. A tree can heat up quickly and catch fire in such locations. Always use artificial lights, never real candles, to decorate your tree.
• If you are going to use holiday lights this Christmas, be sure to check first whether they’re made for inside or outside use, and look on the package to make sure that they’ve been tested for safety by an independent laboratory.
• Check every set of lights for frayed wires, cracked or loose bulbs and other potential defects. Do not attempt to repair these lights. Instead throw them out and replace them with a new set.
Extension cords, if you use them, should only be used with a maximum of three standard sets of lights.
• Don’t overload electrical outlets or run extensions cords under carpets, across doorways, or near heaters. Be sure extension cords are not pinched behind or under furniture.
• If you plan to hang your lights outside, make sure that the area in which you intend to use them is both safe and secure. Hang the lights on trees, house supports or other firm surfaces, and make sure that they won’t be in contact with dry, flammable material like paper once they are lit. Use insulated staples or hooks to hold the lights in place.
• No matter how safe your lights may seem, never leave them lit without supervision and always extinguish them before bedtime.
• Avoid glass and other fragile ornaments if you have small children or pets. These can fall and shatter, creating a danger if they are stepped on or swallowed.
• Candles of any sort should be carefully placed away from flammable materials like paper, clothes, or combustible liquids before lighting. Always use stable nonflammable holders and put them out of reach of children or pets so they won’t be toppled over easily.
• Always extinguish candles or other flames when you are away or before you go to sleep.
For more information on holiday safety, visit the MSDH website at: