LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Chances are you may know someone who experienced a house fire.
The Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal (SFM) is reminding all residents to practice safe home heating as our state prepares to fall under varying levels of freeze this coming week.
“When the weather changes we do get quite a few more calls, and that comes from people kicking on their heaters for the first time for the year and that hadn’t done it in a long time.”
Louisiana State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says most of these fires happen in the fall and winter months, as many will turn up the heat to fight the cold.
“We’ve had about 59 residential fire deaths since the first of the year in the state. That number is pretty consistent however we’re predicting a much colder season this year,” said Browning.
The National Fire Protection Association says local fire departments respond to over 50 thousand fires involving heating equipment every year.
That results in around 1-billion dollars in property damage and more importantly, almost 500 deaths nationwide.
The NFPA says 86-percent of those deaths involved space heaters.
“We have investigated fires where space heaters were left on for long periods of times, left on in rooms while people sleep,” Browning said.
With even chillier temperatures ahead, the State Fire Marshall’s Office suggests a few tips when it comes to heating your home:
- Place space heaters 3-5 feet from combustible objects like blankets
- Plug all heating appliances directly into wall outlets, not power strips or extension cords
- Do not use stoves or ovens to heat homes
- Do not leave candles/open flames (or space heaters) left unattended
- Have working smoke alarms in your home
SFM’s Operation Save-A-Life program partners with local fire departments and districts to provide FREE smoke alarm installations, at any time of the year, for families in need of assistance accessing the critical emergency-alert equipment.
In addition to having working smoke alarms, the SFM also emphasizes the importance of having planned and practiced escape routes for your home that include knowing two ways out of every room.
To register for a free smoke alarm, or learn more about Operation Save-A-Life, visit lasfm.org.
Keep in mind, a drop in temperatures can also mean a risk to the pipes in your home as well.
Experts recommend using heat tape or insulation around any exposed pipes and if that’s not an option leave your tub and sinks dripping to prevent them from freezing.