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Home Fire Heating Safety Crucial during Cold Winter Months

Home Fire

The American Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters every year in this country. No one hears about the vast majority of these emergencies - the home fires that affect a single family, many of whom escape with only the clothes on their backs.

Heating sources are the second leading cause of home fire deaths, and fatal home fires increase during the winter months. In addition, the National Fire Protection Association states that half of all home heating fires occur in December, January and February.

Seven times a day, someone dies in a home fire. Because of this, the Red Cross has a nationwide campaign to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent over the next five years. Teaming up with local fire departments and community groups, the Red Cross is installing smoke alarms and teaching people how to prevent fires in places where a high number of fires have occurred.

TWO LIFE-SAVING STEPS As part of the nationwide campaign, the Red Cross is asking every household in America to take two simple steps that can save lives - check their existing smoke alarms and practice fire drills at home.

Planning for fire emergencies is important. Make sure all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home, and set up a meeting place outside in case of fire. Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year and at different times of the day. Teach household members to stop, drop and roll if their clothing should catch on fire.

Smoke alarms save lives. You should:

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
  • Check monthly that smoke alarms are working properly by pushing the test button.
  • Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year.
  • Replace smoke alarms every ten years.
  • RECENT FIRE RESPONSES Red Cross volunteers helped a family in Boynton Beach, Florida, recently after fire struck their home. The Red Cross coordinated emergency care for the two adults affected, providing immediate needs such as lodging, food and recovery supplies to help deal with the fire damage to the residence.

    In Cumbola, Pennsylvania, Red Cross workers responded to a home fire in which a family of five was affected. They provided food and clothing and are following up with the family to determine if additional help is needed.

    Four adults in Apache Junction, Arizona were helped by the Red Cross after fire hit their mobile home. Red Cross workers ensured those affected had a safe place to stay, food, clothing and other immediate essentials.

    In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, fire hit an apartment complex recently, causing heavy damage to the multiple residences. The Red Cross helped those affected, providing lodging, comfort kits, clothing, helped refill medications and are continuing to help the families as they recover.

    For more information about fire safety and steps you can take to be ready, visit the preparedness information on our web site.

    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.