Thumbs up: Weather makes fire-safety tactics more important
Officials in Ohio had some good news to report last week. Preliminary data show that 106 people were killed by fire in Ohio during 2012, a 17 percent drop from the year before and nearly a one-third reduction over a two-year period.
Among the factors considered at play in the improved record is more use of smoke alarms, fire prevention education and firefighter training.
An example of how a concerted effort by fire departments and other agencies can make a difference occurred in Lawrence County after a dismal record there in 2010, when eight people died in fires.
Local and state officials reacted, with a key step being participation in Project Safe. That initiative calls for the state fire marshal's office to provide free smoke detectors to local departments, which take them to homes and install them. Hundreds of smoke detectors were placed in Lawrence County homes over the past two years, and no fire deaths have occurred in that span.
While fire agencies believe that education efforts and initiatives such as Project Safe play key roles in fire safety, they acknowledged that a much milder winter last year probably helped reduce the 2012 death toll.
That's why they are stressing that this week's arrival of colder temperatures, when people are more inclined to use space heaters and stoke up their fireplaces, poses extra dangers.
The fire marshal's office urges people to keep space heaters away from fabric, check fireplaces before lighting them for the first time and make sure each level of the house has a working smoke alarm.
Whether we remain safe from fire depends largely on each of us taking the proper precautions.