SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Monday marks the start of Fire Prevention Week, which means fire departments across the country will be raising awareness on fire safety.
Firefighters say it’s important to think about your everyday activities and whether or not it could start a fire. Here in Savannah, three people have died in house fires so far this year. Of those fire-related deaths, investigators say it looks like all three were due to falling asleep while smoking.
Savannah’s first fire-related death of 2019 happened in January at an apartment on Mohawk Street. Firefighters say a man and his dog died from smoke and fire exposure after he did not properly discard smoking materials.
The second death came in April on East 37th Street when investigators say another man fell asleep on his couch while smoking.
The most recent death happened in May when firefighters say a woman fell asleep on her couch while smoking.
Through Fire Prevention Week, Savannah Fire Rescue hopes to spread the message that you should always be careful when dealing with fire, even if it’s just small activities like smoking.
Firefighters want to remind you to never use smoking materials in bed or when you’re feeling tired. Also, never flick cigarette butts on the ground or out windows or doors. Instead, discard the cigarettes by extinguishing them in sand, water, or an ashtray.
Firefighters say house fires can also stem from other activities like unattended cooking or even a lit candle or incense.
Savannah Fire Rescue Captain Humberto Lopez says to keep an eye on these activities because it doesn’t take much to start a big blaze.
“It will really surprise people how quickly these situations can get out of hand,” says Captain Lopez.
With the holidays coming up, Savannah Fire Rescue says they are gearing up for one of their busiest seasons for fighting fires. They say to make sure your family has a plan and knows extactly what to do in case of a fire.
At the end of the week, Savannah Fire Rescue will demonstrate just how quickly a cigarette can turn into a devastating fire. That demonstration will happen at 10 a.m. Friday morning at Fire Rescue’s Training Center at 280 Agonic Road.
Savannah Fire Rescue offers the following fire safety tips to help people prevent or escape a fire and avoid tragedy:
- Never leave matches, lighters or smoking materials in the reach of children
- If you smoke, never to use smoking materials in bed or while drowsy
- Establish a smoking area away from buildings and flammable materials
- Carefully extinguish smoking materials in sand, water or a deep ashtray
- Never flick cigarette butts on the ground or out of windows and doors
- Keep flammable items away from stovetops, candles, space heaters and other sources of heat
- Never leave the kitchen while food is cooking on the stove.
- Don’t run electrical cords under rugs and never overload extension cords. Have outlets installed instead.
- Never leave burning candles and incense unattended. Always use stable candle holders and incense burners.
- Test smoke alarms monthly. Change alarm batteries twice a year. Replace smoke alarms after 10 years of use
- Find 2 ways out of every room in your home and develop a fire escape plan with your family
- Make sure fire escape routes are clutter-free, doors and windows open easily and barred windows have an emergency release
- Plan an outside meeting place where family members meet after escaping a fire
Fire Prevention Week runs Oct. 6-12, 2019. For more information, click here.