HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - With an increased number of fire deaths in Mississippi, officials are focusing on ways to prevent the rate from rising in 2019.
In 2018, 79 people died in Mississippi fires, according to a report from the State Fire Marshall Office. Harrison County saw six fire deaths last year, the most of any county in the state.
“Death and injuries in fire is a tragic thing, and we in the fire service do everything we can to prevent those kind of things from happening," said Harrison County Fire Chief Pat Sullivan. "A 36 percent increase from the year before is unacceptable.”
The State Fire Marshal found 38 death cases last year where smoke alarms were not present. Sullivan said people should not only make sure alarms are working, but consider placing them throughout the home.
“You want them near the bedroom, so if a fire breaks out somewhere else in the house, you have time to get out of there before the smoke gets to you while you’re in bed,” he explained.
The report stated that electrical fires were the leading cause of fire deaths in Mississippi. Sullivan said it was time to stop ignoring flipped breakers and broken outlets in the home, signs of a potential problem.
“The few dollars that it would have taken to replace that appliance, get rid of that old appliance, or fix that outlet that was broken, it doesn’t compare when someone’s life is lost because of it,” he said.
Attention to safety and prevention in 2019 can bring fewer fires and fewer deaths. Below is a list of fire safety tips from the Mississippi Department of Health:
- If an appliance smokes or has an unusual smell, unplug it immediately and have it repaired.
- Replace frayed or cracked electrical cords, and don’t overload extension cords.
- Never tamper with the fuse box or use the improper size fuse.
- If you have high-wattage halogen lights, make sure they are away from flammable drapes and low ceiling areas.
- Check smoke detectors once a month, and change the batteries at least once a year.
- Have a safe fire escape method. The best fire alert system is useful only if you can get out when the alarm goes off.