Winter may be to blame for increase in child fire deaths

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The tragic loss of 2 West Alexandria students has 2 NEWS looking into the number of children who have died in fires this year in Ohio.

A recent report by the state’s Bureau of Fire Prevention shows statistics are increasing at an alarming pace.

The state fire marshal says 15 children died in fires last year, so far this year, 11 children have been killed in similar scenarios.

And officials say the extremely cold Winter may be to blame for these rates.

Fire investigators say alternative forms of heating have often been a factor in many of the deadly fires they’ve seen involving children.

“We need to establish a safe zone around those heaters, what I call a kid-free zone, at least 3 feet away,” Chief Frank Conway of Ohio’s Bureau of Fire Prevention.

And with more Winter nights ahead, the Chief stresses that the risk may increase.

Alternative heating can be dangerous, especially if used while you’re asleep.

Another issue experts say they see is children not knowing what to do in the event of a fire.

Sugarcreek Fire Marshal Terry Trepanier said often times, “We see a lot of people through carelessness or just (people who) don’t know. We feel that maybe we haven’t done our jobs as much as we could.”

To help educate officials are spreading information.

Smoke detectors have a lifespan of 10 years, after which they must be disposed.

The device itself must be checked twice a year, and officials recommend doing so during daylight saving time.

Batteries should be changed periodically as well.

However, these tips aren’t the only ways to protect yourself.

“The key thing with the plan is that once that alarm goes off, we get everyone out of the house and we stay out and we have a common meeting place so that we can have some accountability and that the fire department is notified once everyone was inside that home,” Chief Conway explained.

And for children 5-years-old and under, parents must repeat their home fire drill plan over and over again.

Expert say kids instinctively look for mom and dad, instead of crawling to safety, and the only way to reverse this is by practicing and reviewing your plan.

Additionally, officials want to pet owners of the danger certain apparatuses could play on their home.

The Sugarcreek Fire Marshal notes that light bulbs used in animal cages can be of concern for fire department.

While they can keep animals warm on the cold nights. he says these lights too can be dangerous, leading to fires and possibly deaths.

But with a plan in place and cautiously using alternative heating sources, you can help your family be better prepared in the event of a worst case scenario.

 

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