The Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance reminds consumers to use Halloween on Saturday and the end of daylight saving time on Sunday as opportunities to take steps to increase home fire safety.
Town of Greeneville Fire Marshal David Weems also offered some home fire prevention safety tips.
“During this unprecedented year, Tennesseans have faced and overcome challenges like never before. I encourage my fellow Tennesseans to use this weekend as a chance to focus on fire safety in order to have a safe Halloween and ensure that their homes’ smoke alarms are working properly as winter approaches,” state Assistant Commissioner of Fire Prevention Gary Farley said in a news release.
HALLOWEEN FIRE SAFETY
Open flames and candles are synonymous with Halloween decorations such as jack-o’-lanterns.
“Unfortunately, candles contribute to home fires every year,” the news release said.
Tennessee fire departments reported an average of 68 candle fires in Tennessee homes per year from 2015 through 2019. The home candle fires have resulted in two resident deaths each year and an average monetary loss of $3.2 million.
To ensure each family has a happy and safe Halloween, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office shares these fire safety tips:
- Stay away from costumes that have long trailing fabric. Adults and children wearing a decorative mask should ensure the mask’s eye holes are large enough to provide a clear field of view.
- When trick-or-treating, provide children with a flashlight or glow stick for lighting. Adult supervision is also strongly recommended.
- Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper are highly flammable. Ensure all decorations are kept away from open flames and other sources of heat like light bulbs or heaters.
- Use battery-operated candles or glow sticks in jack-o’-lanterns. If using a real candle, use extreme caution and do not leave the candle unattended. Make sure children are supervised at all times when candles are lit. When lighting candles inside jack-o’-lanterns, use long, fireplace-style matches or a utility lighter. Be sure to place lit pumpkins well away from anything that can burn and far enough out of the way of trick-or-treaters, doorsteps, walkways and yards.
- Instruct children to stay away from open flames. Be sure they know how to stop, drop, cover and roll if their clothing catches fire. Have them practice stopping immediately, dropping to the ground, covering their face with hands and rolling over and over to put the flames out.
DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME
When setting clocks back one hour to mark the end of daylight saving time at 3 a.m. on Sunday, Tennesseans should also check the batteries of their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure these important devices are properly functioning, the news release said.
Most fatal fires occur at night while victims are sleeping. The smoke and toxic gases generated by a home fire can cause people to sleep more deeply which reduces the likelihood of surviving a fire. A working smoke alarm can double the chances of survival by increasing the amount of time a person has to escape a house fire, the release said.
To help ensure the safety of Tennesseans, consumers should replace the batteries twice a year in both smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors unless they have smoke alarms with 10-year sealed batteries, which require the entire smoke alarm be replaced when the alarm chirps.
Having new batteries every six months reduces the chance of alarms chirping to indicate low batteries.
SMOKE ALARMS AVAILABLE
Greene County residents in need of working smoke alarms should contact their local fire departments and ask if they participate in the State Fire Marshal’s Office “Get Alarmed, Tennessee!” program.
The Greeneville Fire Department provides smoke alarms to Greeneville residents.
Homeowners can contact the Greeneville Fire Department at 423-638-4243 to request alarms, Town of Greeneville Fire Marshal David Weems said.
The National Fire Protection Association recommends that smoke alarms over 10 years old be replaced with new alarms.
Weems also addressed other fire safety issues.
“Unattended cooking is the leading cause of kitchen fires,” he said.
“Keep a lid nearby when cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled,” Weems said.
“For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. Never try to carry a burning pan outside. Also, never use water to fight a grease fire,” Weems said.
He said as the weather in East Tennessee turns colder, the risk of home heating fires increases.
“Chimneys should be professionally inspected and cleaned annually. Carbon monoxide alarms should be installed in homes that use carbon-based fuels for heating or cooking, such as wood, oil, propane and natural gas,” Weems said.
“Make sure that combustible materials are at least 3 feet from any heater. Never use an extension cord to power a heater. Plug the heater directly into an electrical outlet that is on a circuit capable of supplying the required electrical load of the heater,” Weems said.
The Greeneville Fire Department can be contacted at 423-638-4243 with questions about home fire safety issues.
If decorative candles are used, Weems offered the following safety tips:
- Remember that a candle is an open flame. It can easily ignite any nearby combustibles.
- Extinguish all candles when leaving the room or going to sleep.
- Keep candles away from items that can catch fire (e.g. clothing, books, paper, curtains, Christmas trees, flammable decorations).
- Use candle holders that are sturdy, will not tip over easily, are made from a material that cannot burn and are large enough to collect dripping wax.
- Do not place lit candles in windows, where blinds and curtains can close over them.
- Place candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface and do not use candles in places where they could be knocked over by children or pets.