NORFOLK, Va. - When was the last time you checked to see if your smoke alarms are working?
National Fire Prevention Week runs October 6-12 this year with a goal of helping people stay safe in the event of a fire and, hopefully, avoid them altogether.
So far this year, nearly 40 people have died in house fires in Virginia, 55 in North Carolina, according to the U.S. Fire Administration website.
Battalion Chief Damon Langley with Norfolk Fire-Rescue says one big, easy thing people can do is check to see if their smoke alarms are working. It's also a good idea to have them on each floor.
Langley says in roughly half of Norfolk fire calls, it's smoke detectors that alerted the people inside.
The National Fire Protection Agency says it's also important for everyone inside the home to practice an escape plan that includes two ways out of every room and a meeting place outside.
Fire Prevention Week comes as the weather is starting to get colder. Firefighters say they see more house fires in the winter months.
"Winter fires are most of the time contributed to heating sources. You look at fireplaces, you look your heating systems in the attic and also people that use space heaters," said Battalion Chief Langley.
Langley says to keep space heaters at least three feet away from furniture and curtains. It's also a good time to get your furnace checked to make sure it'll work properly when you fire it up for the first time.
Norfolk Fire-Rescue will provide free smoke alarms to Norfolk residents, the department said in a tweet. Call 757-664-6510 to schedule your installation.