So far in the Commonwealth of Virginia, 48 people have died from house fires. That’s 14% more than this time last year.
October is Fire Prevention Month, and stations across the state are trying to get the word out about fire safety.
“We have seen a big decrease in fire deaths since the 70’s with the start of using smoke alarms, but this year Virginia is seeing an uptick in fire-related deaths so we want to make sure that people are really taking this seriously,” said Tiffany Bradbury, Roanoke Fire-EMS community risk reduction specialist. “Taking five minutes to go around their house to make sure their smoke alarms are working, and talk to their kids about what they would do if a fire started in their house.”
Bradbury says it starts with prevention. The number one cause of house fires is cooking. Make sure to watch what you cook, and turn off the stove after you’re done. If a cooking pan is on fire, cover it with a lid.
“Put a lid over the pan if you do have a fire that starts,” said Bradbury. “Don’t move it or you’ll spread it through your house or burn yourself, and don’t put water on it. Fire extinguishers are good as well, but they’ll only put out a small fire. Another thing you can do on the prevention end is that if you’re a smoker – smoke outside. Never smoke on oxygen and you don’t smoke inside on your E-Z chair or on your bed because that’s the most common type of fatal fire.”
The second part of fire prevention is survival. Experts advise to have at least one smoke detector on every level of your home and to have a fire escape plan.
“A fire escape plan is huge,” said Bradbury. “We do them at school, we do them at work – rarely do we see fires in those places – we see them at home. We want people to understand that you only have about two minutes to get out of your home if it catches on fire. You want your kids to know not to ever hide, to get outside and stay outside and call 911.”
Bradbury will be visiting Roanoke City Public Schools next week to teach elementary schoolers the importance of fire safety.