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Cold Weather Brings Heightened Fire Danger
From: State Fire Marshall      Filed 10/29/07  GCN

Mississippi Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal George Dale today reminds citizens that we are entering the season when more home fires occur. The beginning of cold temperature season is when everyone should become extremely vigilant and exercise fire safety with all activities. The approaching winter months are when the state generally sees a spike in fire deaths.

"We have already had over 60 fire deaths in the state this year and that is far beyond acceptable. We've had some of the first cold temperatures of the season, and I cannot stress enough how important it is for everyone to become more fire safety aware during the coming months. Fire safety begins with you," said Commissioner Dale.

Some cold weather fire safety tips to remember include:

* All heating equipment should be ULŪ approved and cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional prior to being used each year.

* Have flues cleaned and inspected by qualified personnel, and have a spark screen that is age appropriate for all individuals using any area to be heated by a fireplace. Burn only approved materials in a fire place or wood burning stove; never burn paper or trash in a fireplace or wood burning stove.

* Remember to keep clothes, drapes, people, and anything else combustible at least 3 feet away from all heating equipment especially space heaters.

* Inspect the 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.

* Always unplug space heaters when they are not in use. The heater should also be equipped with a tip over shut-off switch.

* Use only traditional heating equipment. Never use a gas range to heat living spaces. Kerosene is a poor choice for heating as it will give off poisonous fumes.

Fire departments and senior citizen groups may obtain copies of Remembering When: a falls and fire prevention program for older adults from the State Fire Marshal Division.  Additionally, Risk Watch: Unintentional Injuries, a school-based injury prevention curriculum for pre-school through grade 8, is available to any interested school or fire department (while supplies last).

For more information concerning fire safety education or any of these programs contact the State Fire Marshal Division of the Mississippi Insurance Department.

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