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Home Fires: 5 Ways to Heat Your Home Safely

Home Fire Escape Plan

Home heating is the second leading cause of fires in this country, and the American Red Cross has steps people should follow when using space heaters and other heating sources to avoid a fire in their home.

The cold weather has settled in over many areas and people are resorting to alternate methods to keep their homes warm, sometimes leading to disastrous results. Almost 350 people have died in home fires in this country so far in 2018, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

The Red Cross has been working to reduce that number through its Home Fire Campaign, which focuses on installing free smoke alarms in neighborhoods at high risk for fires and teaching people about fire safety. Since the start of the campaign in 2014, the Red Cross and partners have installed more than 1 million smoke alarms.

To reduce the risk of heating related fires, the Red Cross recommends these 5 steps (More home fire safety information available here):

1. All heaters need space. Keep children, pets and things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.

2. If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs, or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Plug power cords directly into outlets - never into an extension cord.

3. Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended, and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.

4. Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.

5. Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.


There are two things everyone can do to increase their chances of surviving a fire and protecting their home.

  • Create and practice a fire escape plan. Include two ways out of every room. Pick a spot to meet outside. Practice the plan at least twice a year with everyone in your household.
  • Install and maintain smoke alarms. Place smoke alarms on every level of your home, including inside and outside bedrooms. Test smoke alarms once a month. Change the batteries at least once a year - if your model requires it.
  • RED CROSS APPS People can learn how to help prevent a home fire and what to do if one occurs by downloading the Red Cross Emergency App. They can use the app’s Family Safe feature to help stay in touch with loved ones. Children can earn points and incentives in a fun, gaming environment while learning how to prevent a home fire and other emergencies in the Monster Guard: Prepare for Emergencies App. The First Aid App provides expert advice including what to do for burns, broken bones, and breathing and cardiac emergencies. The apps can be downloaded for free in app stores or at

    About the American Red Cross:

    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.