RALEIGH, N.C. -- Eleven people have died in fires in North Carolina so far, this year during a nine-day stretch marking the start of 2018.
The numbers of death have increased compared to last year when nine people died from house fires during the entire month of January.
Mike Causey, Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal said, “One life lost in fire is one life too many.”
“It's imperative citizens know of the dangers associated with home heating and carbon monoxide so they can take extra precautions during the blast of winter weather,” said Causey.
Heating is the second leading cause of home fires, deaths, and injuries in the U.S. according to the National Fire Protection Association.
It also reports, there's an increase in the number of home fires related to heating during the months of December, January, and February.
In 2017, 83 people died in house fires in North Carolina. That's 14 more compared to 2016.
Winter weather also increases the chances of carbon monoxide poisonings. Vehicles, generators, and home heating can produce dangerous levels in your home in a short amount of time. It's often called, the “silent killer” because the gas released is colorless and odorless.
Carbon monoxide poisoning mimics common illness such as the flu or food poisoning with symptoms that include shortness or breath, nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness or headaches.
Here are some tips to help keep you and your family safe.
• Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment.
• Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
• Never use your oven to heat your home.
• Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
• Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
• Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container, placed on a non-combustible area and stored a safe distance away from your home.
• Test smoke alarms at least once a month.
• Generators should be operated in well-ventilated locations outdoors away from all doors, windows and vent openings.
• Never use a generator in an attached garage, even with the door open.
• Place generators so that exhaust fumes can't enter the home through windows, doors or other openings in the building.
• Turn off generators and let them cool down before refueling. Never refuel a generator while it is running.
• Store fuel for the generator in a container that is intended for the purpose and is correctly labeled as such. Store the container outside of living areas.
• A portable ethanol burning fireplace, and the fuel, should only be used by adults.
• Clean up any fuel spillage and be sure all liquid has evaporated before lighting the fireplace.
• Light the fireplace using a utility lighter or long match.
• An adult should always be present when a portable fireplace is burning.
• Place the portable fireplace on a sturdy surface.
• Never try to move a lit fireplace or one that is still hot.
• Don't pour ethanol fuel in a fireplace that is lit or still warm. It may result in a fire or injury.
• Extinguish the flame in a portable or permanent fireplace when you leave the room, home or go to sleep.
• Carbon monoxide alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area on every level of the home and in other locations required by law or code. For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
• Follow the manufacturer's instructions for placement and mounting height.
• Choose a carbon monoxide alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
• Test CO alarms at least once a month; replace them according to the manufacturer's instructions.
• If the audible trouble signal sounds, check for low batteries. If the battery is low, replace it. If it still sounds, call the fire department.
• If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for.
• If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engines or motors indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.
• During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
• Use gas or charcoal grills outside.
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