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Urgent steps needed to reduce fire and carbon monoxide injuries

Thursday, February 27, 2014

New Hampshire State Fire Marshal J. William Degnan warns residents that with extreme weather, steps are needed to reduce fire and carbon monoxide injuries and deaths.

Millions of Americans have suffered through treacherous weather – snow, ice and Arctic-like temperatures – this winter. U.S. residential fire and carbon monoxide incidents account for far more fatalities in most years than all natural disasters combined.

“From my 38-plus years of experience in the fire industry, I can tell you that no one is immune,” Degnan said. “Fire can happen anytime, anywhere – and too often ends in tragedy.”

In January, a family of five narrowly escaped from their home during a house fire caused by a hidden pipe connected to their woodstove. A family in Manchester were overcome with carbon monoxide and brought to the hospital. They were lucky, as there were no working smoke or carbon monoxide alarms in the homes.

There have, however, already been five fatalities this year in New Hampshire residential fires. Working smoke alarms may have saved their lives. Degnan urges all residents to check their smoke alarms.

“It is the deadliest time of the year for home fires and CO poisonings. As families struggle to stay warm, it’s important to clear flues and outside exhaust vents of snow and debris, place generators outside if there is a power outage, and keep flammable materials at least three feet away from any heat source,” he said. “These small, but vital, actions can be life-saving.”

“I urge families to take these five simple steps to help protect your loved ones and home year-round,” Degnan added.

1. Replace outdated smoke alarms, meaning any installed 10 or more years ago, because age-related factors like dust, insects and airborne contaminants can impact alarms’ efficiency. If you have battery-powered alarms, choose replacement alarms with sealed, long-life lithium batteries. They offer 10 years of protection, are tamper-proof and never need the battery replaced. Don’t forget to install alarms on each floor and inside/
outside of sleeping areas.

2. Place UL-listed fire extinguishers within reach on every level of your home. Make sure they are within reach in rooms like the kitchen, garage and bedrooms.

3. Develop and practice an escape plan with your family and know two ways out of each room.

4. Pledge to keep your family safe and reduce the risk that firefighters face when responding to a home fire at www.alarm

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