State agencies highlight fire safety precautions

In the wake of several recent fatalities related to house fires, the West Virginia Department of Health, W est Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office, and West Virginia Emergency Management Division are joining forces to remind West Virginians about fire safety practices.

Sherri A. Young, D.O., MBA, FAAFP, Cabinet Secretary for the West Virginia Department of Health, is urging West Virginians to have a safety plan in place.

“When seconds could be the difference between life and death, having a home escape plan and working smoke alarms could make all the difference,” said Sec. Young.

Man installing smoke or carbon monoxide detector

A home escape plan should include two exits from every home (usually a door and a window); a meeting place outside; and a call to 911 from a cell phone or neighbor’s phone.

A step-by-step guide to developing a home safety plan may be found online at

“Other ways to reduce or lower the risk of danger in your home is to stay in the kitchen when heating food and keeping items that cause fires away when cooking on the stovetop. Also, limit the use of unvented fuel-fired appliances,” said State Fire Marshal Ken Tyree.

Working smoke alarms can decrease the risk of dying in a house fire by half.

Smoke alarms should be installed in every sleeping room, outside each sleeping area, on every level of the home, including the basement, and should be tested at least once a month using the test button.

“As we try to keep our homes warm in the winter months, prioritizing fire safety is paramount,” said West Virginia Emergency Management Division Director GE McCabe. “Taking proactive measures, such as checking heating systems and chimneys, using heating appliances responsibly, and having working smoke detectors, ensures a warm and secure environment for you and your loved ones.”

Space heaters and home heating equipment are other leading causes of home fires during the winter months.

The risk can be reduced by keeping anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment and keeping children at a dis- tance.

For more strategies to stay safe, go to and