State Fire Marshal says prepare for extreme cold

Published 10:30 am Friday, January 6, 2017

As extremely cold temperatures enter Lafayette County this weekend, residents are reminded to utilize safety when heating their homes.

Temperatures are expected to be in the teens throughout the area and State Fire Marshal Mike Chaney to use caution when using space heaters and other forms of heating sources.

“Using heating sources in a proper manner to stay warm during cold weather and having working smoke alarms in your home is literally the difference between life and death,” said Chaney. “Space heaters pose a much higher risk of fire, death and injury than central heating, and it cannot be stressed enough that using a stove to heat a home is extremely dangerous,” Chaney said.

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He adds that working smoke detectors are vital in trying to protect individuals from a tragic fire.

“Every home should have a working smoke alarm. Working smoke alarms can cut the risk of people dying in home fires in half,” he said.

The State Fire Marshal’s office investigated more than 50 reported fire deaths in 2016.

Safety tips

As you prepare for cold weather, the State Fire Marshal’s office offers these heating safety tips:

•Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.

•Supervise children when a fireplace, fire pit, or other space heater is being used. Use a sturdy, metal screen to prevent contact burns, which are even more common than flame burns.

•All heaters need space. Keep things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture at least 3 feet away from heating equipment.

•Use heating equipment that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.

•Never use your oven for heating.

•Install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment, according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.

•Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms to avoid risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Also, be a good neighbor. Check with the elderly or relatives and friends who may need additional assistance to ensure their safety. If you lose your heat, seal off unused rooms by stuffing towels in the cracks under the doors. At night, cover windows with extra blankets or sheets.

Should a fire break out in the home, have an emergency evacuation plan for the family to follow and have a designated meeting place for all family members. Once everyone is outside the burning home, call 911 and do not re-enter the home under any circumstances.

For more fire safety information and tips visit a special State Fire Marshal Heating Fire Safety page on the Mississippi Insurance Department website at