SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The state fire marshal is urging Illinois residents to test smoke alarms and prepare a family emergency escape plan after an unusually high number of people died in fires last month.

In 2017, 84 people died due to fire and 131 people were injured.

In January of this year, 21 people died and 21 were injured. State Fire Marshal Matt Perez says the major causes of fatalities are heating issues and careless use of smoking materials.

Perez says practicing fire safety saves lives.

He says people should test their smoke and carbon monoxide alarms monthly and change the batteries at least twice a year. Perez also urges people to have two ways to escape their home in case of emergency, and never to use an oven to heat a home.

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