Child fatalities in Tenn. house fires increase during summer months

NASHVILLE (WATE) – Child fatalities from fires have steadily increased in Tennessee during the months of June and July since 2010.

According to the State Fire Marshal’s Office’s Tennessee Fire Incident Reporting System, 25 percent of child victims died from house fires during the two months.

“School may be out, but fire safety isn’t,” State Fire Marshal and Commerce and Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak said. “For many parents, the summer months mean children are at home with teenage siblings or babysitters. Care must be taken to both prevent and prepare for fire emergencies. We are urging parents and guardians to sit down with their children to discuss and practice how to escape the home should a fire occur.”

The office encourages families to create an escape plan which includes an appointed meeting place. Families should practice the plan at least two times a year.

“Practice is important, especially for children,” said McPeak. “Many fatal fires often begin while we are sleeping, so be sure to practice your plan both at night and during the day.”

The office offers tips to families on creating a plan.

Planning escape:

  • Draw a floor plan that has two ways to exit the home in each room.
  • Create an appointed meeting place that is in a safe distance from the home.
  • Practice the drill at night and during the day twice a year.


  • Place smoke alarms in every inside and outside every sleeping area and each level.
  • Test smoke alarms each months and change batteries at least once a year.
  • Replace alarms every 10 years.
  • Make sure everyone in the household knows and understands the sound of a smoke alarm.
  • Make sure everyone in the household can unlock the doors and windows at night.
  • Make sure there is a second window to escape from if one window has a air conditioner.
  • Make sure windows have emergency release devices.
  • Make sure there is someone who could help any household member with a disability.
  • Teach children how to escape on their own.


  • Close doors when exiting the home.
  • Use the back of your hand to check if the door is warm. If it is, use another route.
  • Close doors in between you and a fire if you are trapped. Use clothes and towels to keep out smoke from the cracks.
  • Call the fire department and stay near a window to signal for help. Use a light-colored cloth or a flashlight to signal.

Stay out

  • Do not go back in the house for any reason.
  • Call the fire department from the appointed meeting place.
  • Tell the fire department if people or pets are inside. Let crews rescue someone or a pet.

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