Special Report: On Average, More Than 1 West Virginian Dying a W - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Special Report: On Average, More Than 1 West Virginian Dying a Week in Fires

Posted: Updated:

In 2016, the state of West Virginia lost 58 people to fires across the state.

That averages to more than one death a week.

It doesn’t end there. So far in 2017, fires have claimed the lives of 10 people, including at least three children. That's slightly higher than in years past, according to the West Virginia State Fire Marshal's Office. 

“It’s heartbreaking for the families,” said Kanawha County Emergency Management Director C.W. Sigman. “It’s a tough situation for anyone when they lose a loved one, but particularly in a fire.”

Sigman said children, senior citizens and people with mobility issues are most at risk to dying in a fire.

“Think,” Sigman said. “Most houses with a coffee table or furniture or whatever - trying to get through there in the dark in the smoke, particularly if you have a walker or low mobility issue trying to get outside.”

Sigman said in many cases, he’s seen people who made it close to escaping but just couldn’t make it out in time.

13 News sat down with Sigman, West Virginia State Fire Marshal Ken Tyree and Charleston Firefighter Lt. Ryan Pennington to find out why this is happening and how we can stop these flames before they take another life.

Smoke Alarms

In most West Virginia fires that end in a fatality, Tyree says he finds no working smoke alarms or working carbon monoxide alarms inside the building.

That’s extremely dangerous, according to every fire official we’ve talked to.

To make sure your smoke detectors are working, Sigman says you should test the device consistently. Just hold in the test button for 3-4 seconds and make sure it goes off, Sigman says.

Sigman is also reminding folks to change the batteries on their smoke alarms at least once a year and to change the smoke detector itself after 10 years.

“If a smoke alarm gets 10 years old, it’s time to replace it,” Sigman said. “It’s like a car. It will finally wear out.”

Sigman says if you need an alarm, to contact your local fire department, emergency management office or the Red Cross.

Clutter and Hoarding

Lt. Ryan Pennington of the Charleston Fire Department says clutter is a big problem when it comes to fires. He says almost every fire the department responds to involves some type of cluttered environment.

“This is growing at an alarming rate, and they’re attributing it to the baby boomers getting older,” Pennington says. “It seems to affect the elderly more often.”

Pennington is reminding folks with lots of clutter: make sure you have multiple escape routes.

Pennington says you want two clear paths in which you can escape your home in case a fire starts, otherwise, he says there’s not much anyone can do.

“You can imagine crawling into a fire. Now add stacks of belongings around you. It’s a death trap,” Pennington said.

Pennington adds, if you choose to use a space heater (which he does not recommend), keep at least a 3-6 foot radius clear around the unit.

Doors

Eyes shut, doors shut.

That’s the motto Pennington recommends you live by.

What does it mean? Put simply, when you’re sleeping, you should keep your doors closed.

Pennington says keeping your doors closed helps prevent the fire from spreading and also gives you more time to escape.

One BIG safety tip though - make sure you have working smoke detectors both inside and outside your bedroom.

Training

Since children are one of the most at risk to dying in fires, Sigman says it’s important to teach them about fire safety.

Sigman suggests training your children on how to get out of the house.

“Let them know you want to get out of bed, crawl to the door and get out of the home,” Sigman said.

It’s also important to have a family emergency plan in place.

Here’s examples of what you need in your family emergency plan: http://www.nfpa.org/public-education/by-topic/safety-in-the-home/escape-planning/basic-fire-escape-planning

  • Special ReportsMore>>

  • High Cost of Narcan

    High Cost of Narcan

  • COLD CASE: Who Killed Dickie Riser?

    COLD CASE: Who Killed Dickie Riser?

    Friday, November 10 2017 11:08 PM EST2017-11-11 04:08:09 GMT

    It's been almost seven years since Dickie Riser vanished into thin air. But while its seems the case has gone cold, Riser's family says the investigator is hotter than ever.

    It's been almost seven years since Dickie Riser vanished into thin air. But while its seems the case has gone cold, Riser's family says the investigator is hotter than ever.

  • Sharon's Story: A Will To Survive

    Sharon's Story: A Will To Survive

    Thursday, November 9 2017 1:30 AM EST2017-11-09 06:30:34 GMT
    On many fronts, Sharon Pendleton is a survivor! “So I got to the point where I said, it’s either die or try, and that's when I came here,” stated Pendleton. Here is the YWCA Sojourner shelter for homeless women and families. “My story starts off, the typical one that leads you to homelessness, the drug addiction or the abusive relationships,” exclaimed Pendleton. “When I came to Sojourners, I was really down on my luck, really suicidal. The only ...
    On many fronts, Sharon Pendleton is a survivor! “So I got to the point where I said, it’s either die or try, and that's when I came here,” stated Pendleton. Here is the YWCA Sojourner shelter for homeless women and families. “My story starts off, the typical one that leads you to homelessness, the drug addiction or the abusive relationships,” exclaimed Pendleton. “When I came to Sojourners, I was really down on my luck, really suicidal. The only ...
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • SLIDESHOW: 15 Arrested, 3 Wanted in Major West Virginia Heroin Trafficking Bust

    SLIDESHOW: 15 Arrested, 3 Wanted in Major West Virginia Heroin Trafficking Bust

    Friday, November 17 2017 8:27 PM EST2017-11-18 01:27:15 GMT
    West Virginia has worst overdose death rate in the nation.West Virginia has worst overdose death rate in the nation.

    PARKERSBURG, WV (WOWK) - The Parkersburg Narcotics Task Force (PNTF), with assistance from the FBI, concluded a year-long investigation involving the trafficking of heroin into the Wood County area. According to a release from the Parkersburg Police Department, at approximately 6 a.m. Friday, an operation to arrest 18 people involved in this investigation began. This operation was conducted in three states, Parkersburg, West Virginia, Marietta, Ohio, and Detroit, Michigan. As a res...

    PARKERSBURG, WV (WOWK) - The Parkersburg Narcotics Task Force (PNTF), with assistance from the FBI, concluded a year-long investigation involving the trafficking of heroin into the Wood County area. According to a release from the Parkersburg Police Department, at approximately 6 a.m. Friday, an operation to arrest 18 people involved in this investigation began. This operation was conducted in three states, Parkersburg, West Virginia, Marietta, Ohio, and Detroit, Michigan. As a res...

  • Teacher caught waiting on floor with lit candles had sex with student, deputies say

    Teacher caught waiting on floor with lit candles had sex with student, deputies say

    Friday, November 17 2017 6:38 PM EST2017-11-17 23:38:26 GMT
    YUKON, Okla. (WNCN) — An Oklahoma chemistry teacher is behind bars after deputies discovered she was having sex with one of her students. Hunter Day, 22, was arrested after deputies pretended to be the boy arriving at her home for another sexual encounter. “This is a classic case of a serious breach of public trust. School teachers are entrusted to protect and educate our children, not to engage in an unlawful sexual relationship with them,” said Chris West, Canadi...
    YUKON, Okla. (WNCN) — An Oklahoma chemistry teacher is behind bars after deputies discovered she was having sex with one of her students. Hunter Day, 22, was arrested after deputies pretended to be the boy arriving at her home for another sexual encounter. “This is a classic case of a serious breach of public trust. School teachers are entrusted to protect and educate our children, not to engage in an unlawful sexual relationship with them,” said Chris West, Canadi...
  • Malcolm Young, AC/DC guitarist and co-founder, dead at 64

    Malcolm Young, AC/DC guitarist and co-founder, dead at 64

    Saturday, November 18 2017 9:26 AM EST2017-11-18 14:26:55 GMT
    Courtesy: CBS NewsCourtesy: CBS News

    Malcolm Young, guitarist and co-founder of pioneering rock band AC/DC, has passed away.

    Malcolm Young, guitarist and co-founder of pioneering rock band AC/DC, has passed away.

Powered by Frankly