Overnight temperatures across Mississippi are expected to dip down to near or below freezing this week. As MPB's Mark Rigsby reports, fire officials warn to be careful when firing up your home furnace or other heating source.
An elderly woman died in a house fire in Chickasaw County early Wednesday morning. The cause of the fire is under investigation. Tammy Peavy is with the state Fire Marshal's Office.
"These are the very important months coming up to make sure that we properly heat our homes very safely."
Peavy says Mississippi leads the nation in fire fatalities, and most fire deaths happen during winter months. According to the National Fire Protection Association, more home heating fires occur during the evening, between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Most deaths happen between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.
"Heating is the main cause of those fire fatalities. Make sure any type of heater is at least three feet away from anything that can catch on fire. Space heaters need to be unplugged before you go to bed or you leave home."
"Why do you think Mississippi leads the nation in this catagory?"
"There are several factors. We have a lot of poverty, a lot of smokers. We have mild winters. We don't use our heating equipment as frequently. So, we don't properly clean it like it should be. We don't maintain it as well."
Mississippi averages 63 fire fatalities per year since 2012. There have been 49 so far this year.