Tips on preventing fires in the winter

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Nearly 1/3 of last year's fire fatalities in West Virginia occurred in December, January, and February. That's why fire officials are urging people to be safe this winter.

A Facebook post on the WV State Fire Marshal's page stated fires peak starting in December. 66 people died in fires in the state in 2017. 23 of them happened in December, January, and February.

Parkersburg Fire Chief Jason Matthews has some tips for preventing fires this time of the year.

He says anything that's combustable should be kept at least 3 feet away from fireplaces, furnaces, and space heaters. He recommends plugging space heaters directly into an outlet in the wall and not to use extension cords. He says if you have a live Christmas tree, make sure it's fresh, water it daily, and throw it out after the holidays. And of course, it's important to have a working smoke alarm.

“A couple of things with smoke alarms, you want to have one in every sleeping room and one on every floor," Chief Matthews said.

"You want to check those every month, you want to make sure that they are working, get used to the sound that the smoke alarm makes, in the middle of the night you’re going to hear that sound you’re going to want to know what exactly that is.”

The State Fire Marshal says only three deaths occurred last year where there were working smoke alarms.

Another tip is to keep portable generators outside, away from windows, and as far away as possible from your home.