While Louisiana endured a second round of bitter, record-breaking cold weather in as many weeks, state officials from the Governor’s Office to the State Fire Marshal’s Office are encouraging everyone to remain vigilant in maintaining safety while staying warm.
Although there have been no reports of fire deaths in the wake of the recent arctic temperatures, it is not a time to become complacent in ensuring that homes are properly protected from fire. State officials’ concerns are validated by a recent and historical increase in fire-related deaths, which has soared to 23 since December 15th, a number of which being directly caused by unattended heating sources in homes.
“It’s always a case of the ‘Haves’ and the ‘Have Nots,’” said State Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning, Jr. “When you have properly-maintained smoke alarms, a plan of escape, and the tenacity to keep you and your family safe, you’re always going to be better off than not having those crucial components.”
Studies have consistently shown that upwards of 80% of people who die in fires each year are killed by inhaling smoke. Smoke from a house fire can incapacitate a person within seconds, making it impossible for a person to find an otherwise easily accessible exit.
Regardless the heating source being used, whether it be a fireplace, wood stove, or an electric or gas-powered space heater, Browning said that they should always be monitored to make sure that no one is in danger of being burned and that there is no furniture, wood, or other combustibles placed near them. Before retiring for the night, make sure that all such sources are turned off or extinguished.
Browning further urges those with elderly friends, family, and pets to periodically check on their well-being during the frigid days ahead.