Terrin Ly’Roy Hendrick’s four girls were her entire world. Her daughters, Addison Marie, Aeriel May, Abigail Lee, and Alyssa Rain, loved each other immensely and had a bond like no other. Their family was known in their Newcomerstown community for their ability to make room in their hearts for everyone. Terrin’s girls followed their mother’s example of loving hard and living lives true to themselves. This family loved and protected each other, but last Christmas, a tragic house fire took all of their lives.
Just as Terrin and the girls were beacons of light in their community, their family hopes that some hope can spring from their unimaginable loss. It is their mission to do everything they can to prevent other families from experiencing the grief caused by such a tragic and sudden loss of life.
A Tragic Fire
Last Christmas, Ohio experienced intensely cold weather, with temperatures dropping below zero degrees. This caused families like Terrin and her girls to seek out alternative sources of heat. Brian Peterman, investigations assistant bureau chief for the state fire marshal’s office, said a wood burner, kerosene heaters and electrical space heaters were being used to heat the home, which most likely produced deadly carbon monoxide and caused the fire.
“With the below-zero weather … they were trying to do whatever they could to stay warm,” he said. “Unfortunately, with those devices there are hazards that go along with that.”
In addition to the use of alternative heat sources, investigators did not find evidence of smoke detectors in the home. They believe that the multiple sources of heat generated carbon monoxide and other gasses that claimed the family’s lives while they were sleeping before the entire house burst into flames.
Saving Lives While Remembering Those Lost
Addison always wanted to be a vet and loved reptiles. Ariel was known for being a little fashionista who loved to dance. Abigail was a mama’s girl who was very protective of her family. Alyssa was the baby, but knew how to stand up for herself and hold her own. Terrin gave the best hugs and had the most contagious giggle, comparable to none. They all would want families to have both the information and resources they need to prevent another terrible tragedy.
This week is fire prevention week. It is a time for households to assess their homes for safety as the weather turns and evenings grow colder. Terrin, Addison, Aeriel, Abigail, and Alyssa’s family are devoted to keeping their loved ones’ memories alive by educating families on the importance of fire prevention.
- DO keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as space heaters.
- Smoking materials are the leading cause of residential fire deaths in the United States. So if you smoke:
- DO take precautions: Smoke outside; choose fire-safe cigarettes; use deep, sturdy ashtrays and douse cigarette and cigar butts with water before disposal.
- DON’T ever smoke in bed, when drowsy or medicated, or if anyone in the home is using oxygen.
- DO talk to children regularly about the dangers of fire, matches and lighters and keep them out of reach.
- DO turn portable heaters off when you leave the room or go to sleep.
- DO use flashlights when the power is out, not candles.
- DON’T leave a burning candle unattended, even for a minute.
Safeguard Your Home
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and outside every sleeping area.
- Install a carbon monoxide alarm in a central location outside each separate sleeping area. Download the Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Fact Sheet.
- Make sure your house number is easily readable from the street, even at night.
- Make sure your home heating sources are clean and in working order. Many home fires are started by poorly maintained furnaces or stoves, cracked or rusted furnace parts, or chimneys with creosote buildup. Download the Home Heating Fires Fact Sheet.
- Use kerosene heaters only if permitted by law. Refuel kerosene heaters only outdoors and after they have cooled.
- Check electrical wiring in your home:
- Fix or replace frayed extension cords, exposed wires, or loose plugs.
- Make sure wiring is not under rugs, attached by nails, or in high traffic areas.
- Make sure electrical outlets have cover plates and no exposed wiring.
- Avoid overloading outlets or extension cords.
- Purchase only appliances and electrical devices (including space heaters) that bear the label of an independent testing laboratory.
- Store combustible materials in open areas away from heat sources. Place rags used to apply flammable household chemicals in metal containers with tight-fitting lids.
- Install a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm (also called detectors) in the hallway of your home near sleeping areas. Avoid corners where air does not circulate.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to test the CO alarm every month.
- Do not use a CO alarm in place of a smoke alarm. Have both. Before buying a CO alarm, check to make sure it is listed with Underwriter’s Laboratories standard 2034, or there is information in the owner’s manual that says the alarm meets the requirements of the IAS 6-96 standard.
- Make sure all household appliances are installed according to manufacturer’s instructions and local building codes. Most appliances should be installed by professionals.
- Have heating systems (including chimneys and vents) inspected and serviced annually, checking for blockages, corrosion, partial and complete disconnections.
- Only burn charcoal outdoors, never inside a home, garage, vehicle or tent.
- Always make sure to turn off any gas-powered engine, even if the garage door is open. Do not use gas appliances such as ranges, ovens or clothes dryers for heating your home.
- Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, and confusion. If you suspect CO poisoning, get to fresh air immediately, and then call 9-1-1.
- Treat the alarm signal as a real emergency each time. If the alarm sounds and you are not experiencing any symptoms described above, press the reset button. If the alarm continues to sound, call the fire department.
- Visit www.redcross.org/homefires for more information.
Helpful Resources for Families
- Red Cross Sound the Alarm, Save a Life Program
- US Fire Administration Smoke Alarm Information
- Ohio Department of Development Energy Assistance Programs
- 11 Best Carbon Monoxide Alarms of 2023
- For help obtaining a carbon monoxide alarm, contact your local fire department.