With the first day of winter (Dec. 21) less than two weeks away, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal's Office, the Nashville Fire Department, and the National Fire Sprinkler Association are urging Tennesseans to remember fire safety this winter to help reduce home fires.
Recently, representatives from all three groups gathered at the Nashville Fire Department Training Academy in Nashville to demonstrate the dangers of a Christmas tree when not properly maintained and the benefits of a working home fire sprinkler system.
"I am grateful for our partners both nationally and here in Tennessee who share our goal of saving lives and preventing fire fatalities," said Tennessee State Fire Marshal and Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance Commissioner (TDCI) Hodgen Mainda. "I remind my fellow Tennesseans to stay warm and safe this winter by following our fire safety tips and making sure that the smoke alarms in their homes are working properly."
During winter, the risks to homeowners rise as fire deaths increase by almost 75 percent across Tennessee. Heating equipment is the leading cause of home fire deaths nationally and the second leading known cause in Tennessee. The Tennessee State Fire Marshal's Office recently released new television and radio commercials to raise awareness about the importance of fire safety during Tennessee's coldest months.
Consumers who need working smoke alarms are urged to contact their local fire department and ask if they participate in the SFMO's "Get Alarmed, Tennessee!" free smoke alarm program. Since the "Get Alarmed, Tennessee!" program began in November 2012, volunteers from over 530 Tennessee fire departments and civic organizations have distributed over 217,000 working smoke alarms across the Volunteer State. Since the program's inception, 279 people have been alerted by working smoke alarms installed through "Get Alarmed."
"It's important to stay warm during Tennessee's frigid winter months, but it's equally as important to practice good fire-safe behavior, too," said TDCI Assistant Commissioner Gary Farley. "Before winter arrives, take the time to ensure that you and your family know two ways out of every room in the event of a home fire."
In addition to using working smoke alarms, Tennesseans are advised to remember:
- Keep flammable items like blankets or furniture at least three feet away from space heaters and wood stoves.
- Practice a home fire escape plan with your family. Everyone should know two ways out of each room.
- Never smoke in a home where medical oxygen is present. The increased presence of oxygen in the air makes fire burn hotter and faster.
- Always turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
- Never use your oven to heat your home.
- Have heating equipment and chimneys inspected every year.
- Burn only dry, seasoned wood in fireplaces and woodstoves. Never burn garbage or use flammable liquids to start a fire.
- Make sure any fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying out. Ashes should be cool before disposing of them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
- Install wood burning stoves following manufacturer's instructions or have a professional do the installation. All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
- If you smell gas coming from your gas heater, do not light the appliance. Leave the home immediately and call your local fire department or gas company.
- If you live in a home or apartment with fire sprinklers, make sure there is pressure on the gauge and call your local fire department if you have any questions.