Fire officials urge safety in cold weather

Fire officials urge safety in cold weather
House fire scene

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - With temperatures expected to fall well below freezing over the next few days, Hattiesburg fire officials are urging residents to take proper safety precautions.

With majority of house fires occurring in the colder months of the year, fire officials are reminding people to be aware of proper heating methods.

Hattiesburg Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Matt Saucier described some of the heating methods and what you should and should not do.

"You want to avoid using a stove or oven to heat your home, when using a space heater, have a three foot radius around it, and always remember to unplug heating sources when you are not home," said Saucier.

Saucier noted that extension cords are not a good idea to use, as well as be sure to have proper plugs and working wires for all heating devices.

For those who are using fire places in your home, Saucier reminds residents to be sure to use a fire screen as well as properly clean and maintain the chimney for proper air flow.

"The national average is that the vast majority of home related fire deaths occur due to a heating source, of those numbers occur the months of December, January and February, so we are right in the middle of fire season," said Saucier.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration over 900 people die in winter house fires each year, some of which are linked back to improper heating methods.

One of the most important items to have in a home according to Saucier is working smoke alarms.

"The more you have, the better, have them throughout your home," said Saucier.

Fire officials also urge the importance of having an escape plan in place, as well as a place to meet in the event of a fire.

"If you think there may be a fire, or you have spotted one, best thing you can do is call 911 immediately, the quicker we can get on scene and resolve the problem," said Saucier.