Mississippi has the highest fire death rate of any state in the county. And the sad reality is that many of those fire deaths can be prevented.
That's the goal of a new fire prevention and education program that's taking its message statewide.
"People don't understand about a fire. If you get into a situation like I was into, best thing to do is run, get away quick," said Samuel Lydie, as he showed visitors through the ruins of his burned out Gulfport home.
"It flamed up in here, as you can see," he said, pointing to a scorched space heater in the living room.
Fire recently destroyed Lydie's home and nearly claimed his life. A malfunctioning space heater sparked the blaze, which quickly spread through the small home on Camp Avenue.
"I'm very lucky. I'm very blessed that I escaped," he said.
Bars on the windows hindered his efforts to escape. His futile efforts to put out the fire caused it to flare up instead. He somehow managed to stumble through the smoke filled home and make it safely out the back door.
"I kicked the door open and got out of there. I tried to put the hose on it, and it was coming everywhere. It was gone," he said, shaking his head.
A group called Safe At Home wants to help others avoid the tragedy Sam Lydie faces.
"Help these residents see the simple things that they can do to reduce their risk of fire in their homes," said fire prevention educator Tammy Peavy.
A new fire prevention program called Safe at Home will promote and share safety tips about the three primary causes of fire in Mississippi: smoking, cooking and heating.
Pat Sullivan is the fire chief in Gulfport.
"Each person talks to their family members. Each person sees something in somebody else's house, they may say something like, 'You might not want to do that because I read and I saw some information on this and what you're doing is dangerous,'" said Chief Sullivan.
Already this year, 16 people have died in fires statewide, including a one-year-old girl who died in a trailer fire in Saucier just three days ago.
Tragedies like that fatal fire and the blaze that nearly killed Samuel Lydie could have been prevented, by heeding some simple fire prevention advice.
"If I could help somebody, fine," said Lydie.
Samuel Lydie lost everything in the fire two weeks ago. He's still struggling to get back on his feet. If you'd like to help him, contact Steve Phillips at WLOX (228) 896-2580.