How locals are raising awareness during Fire Prevention Month

ARDMORE, OK -- Wildfires are taxing the resources and the manpower of Texoma fire departments. One area department is using National Fire Prevention month to spread the word about keeping your family and home safe.

"We take the month of october to preach fire prevention every year," Ardmore Fire Marshall Clyde Ellis said.

This year that message could be more important than ever. The extreme drought across Southern Oklahoma and North Texas has led to hundreds of large grassfires like the one in Marshall County this past Friday that endangered several homes.

The Oklahoma State Fire Marshals office says get rid of high brush, cut dry grass, and make sure to keep the ground around your home moist; however, there are fire hazards inside your home as well and identifying is key to staying safe.

"Safety is something that you have to work at," South Central Oklahoma's Red Cross Chapter Manager Patricia Whitener said.

Whitener says now is the time to check your smoke detectors, always make sure candles or lighters are out of reach from small children, and of course obey burn bans. She says this is also a time to "make a plan" and test it.

"I have worked several fires throughout the years where children and family members have not gotten out. So just be aware, make plans, talk with your children," Whitener said.

According to Red Cross they responded to almost 63,000 house fires already this year, and that home fires are the biggest disaster threat to families in the country. Fire Marshall Clyde Ellis says the Ardmore Fire Department takes their "Fire Safety Trailer" to several area schools.

"If we can get the kids going home and talking with their parents about fire prevention. We've accomplished something," Ellis said.

Whitener says they respond to more accidental fires as the weather turns cold as more people light their fireplaces and crank up their heaters. Ellis says before winter hits, change the batteries in your smoke detectors and come up with a plan to keep your family and yourself safe.

To learn more ways of how to increase your safety visit this link http://www.redcross.org/www-files/Documents/pdf/Preparedness/checklists/FireSafety.pdf.


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