To be prepared is to be safe

Published 5:42 pm Friday, August 11, 2023

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The South Marengo Fire and Rescue Squad recently shared a Facebook post concerning home fire deaths. Alabama was in the top five for states with high numbers of house fire deaths and to quote the South Marengo Fire and Rescue Squad “that is not a list we want our state to be listed on.”

Reports from the Alabama Fire Marshal’s Office showed that 108 people died in fire related events in 2022, 66 of which were house fires. So far in 2023, 67 people have died in fire related incidences.

One of those 2023 house fires occurred in Demopolis in June when a home on Decatur St went up in flames and resulted in one death. The report also showed that counties in the surrounding area such as Clarke County, Dallas County, and Wilcox County have all had at least one death associated with house fires since 2022.

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Other data from the report showed that Alabama was tied for the fifth highest home fire death rate in 2022 with 1.3 deaths per 100,000 residents. The states above Alabama were Alaska, Vermont, Louisiana, and North Dakota.

But why do house fires occur? An article on by Ramsey Archibald said that some fires happen because of daily decisions people make such as smoking while on oxygen, improperly disposing of cigarettes, and overloading extension cords. And to make matters worse, these fires can often spread because there is no smoke detector in the home to alert someone to a fire.

Smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors are critical items to have in your home as they will notify you when something is wrong. Detectors need to be placed in areas where they can be easily heard like bedrooms, bathrooms, hallways, and communal spaces such as the living room.

Unfortunately, the report said that in 73 percent of Alabama house fire deaths over the last year and half, no detector was present in the home. While there is no guarantee that a smoke detector would have prevented all of the house fire deaths, they most likely would have saved some lives.

House fires are serious situations and preventative measures and escape plans should always be in place should you ever find yourself inside a burning home. Practice fire drills every few months, replace smoke detector batteries every six months, replace detectors every 10 years, and keep extinguishers close at hand. It is better to be safe than sorry.