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January is supposed to be the month of fresh starts.  It's the beginning of the new year, and a golden opportunity to get back on the horse and metaphorically ride that pony all the way through 2022.  Unfortunately, at least in one category, this year has had a decidedly deadly start.

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According to a report from WDSU's report, the first month of 2022 has been the deadliest month in 4 years for house fires.  According to the State Fire Marshall, 15 Louisiana residents have perished in house fires in the last 31 days making it the most fatal month in our state's history since 2018.  That year the death toll due to house fires was 20.

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Staff photo
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According to the Shreveport Fire Department, someone in the United States dies in a fire every 2 hours - and the vast majority of those deaths occur in homes while everyone is sleeping.  Officials strongly suggest that you take the following steps to make sure you and your family is safe:

  • Make sure all space heaters are at least 3-5 feet from any thing that can easily burn (paper, curtains, blankets, etc.)
  • Never use power strips or extension cords to run an electric heater, plug them directly into the wall outlet
  • Don't over-fill your fireplace
  • Make sure your smoke detectors/alarms are working
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That last one may be the most important as sadly, a lot of the fatal fires experienced in Louisiana this year could have been prevented by a working smoke detector.  Not only should you have a few in your house (you can see what the National Fire Protection Association recommends for you house's layout and size here), they should be tested often.

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The U.S. Fire Administration's guideline on testing and replacement is pretty clear.  From their website:

Smoke alarm powered by a nine-volt battery

  • Test the alarm monthly.
  • Replace the batteries at least once every year.
  • Replace the entire smoke alarm every 10 years.

Smoke alarm powered by a 10-year lithium (or “long-life”) battery

  • Test the alarm monthly.
  • Since you cannot (and should not) replace the lithium battery, replace the entire smoke alarm according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Smoke alarm that is hardwired into your home's electrical system

  • Test the alarm monthly.
  • Replace the backup battery at least once every year.
  • Replace the entire smoke alarm every 10 years.

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