The recent decrease in temperatures has led to an increase in home fires across Iowa. The Red Cross reports, since November 1, the agency has sent disaster teams to 28 home fires around the state.
State Fire Marshal Jeff Quigle says a lot of fires at this time of year are sparked by the improper use of space heaters. He advises people to turn off the space heater when they leave the room and to use a newer model that shuts off automatically if it’s knocked over.
“Make certain that you maintain at least a three foot area around the space heater, so it’s not up close to upholstered furniture or on a carpet,” Quigle said. Space heaters should also be plugged directly into the outlet, rather than using an extension cord, according to Quigle.
He’s also reminding Iowans to have smoke alarms installed on every level of their home and make sure they have fresh batteries. So far this year, 31 people have died in structure fires in Iowa.
“This is a sharp increase over the same time period last year when we had 20 reported fire deaths,” Quigle said. “The big thing we see is 25 of the 31 reported fire deaths (this year) occurred in (homes or apartments) and only three had working smoke detectors.”
There were 25 fire-related fatalities reported in Iowa over all of 2013. That was down from 42 in 2012.