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Red Cross Tips to Safely Heat Your Home While Beating Brutal Cold Temperatures

Red Cross in Arkansas offers assistance during winter storm
Last month, the Nebraska/SW Iowa Region responded to more than 60 home fires across Nebraska and in portions of Iowa

OMAHA, NEB., Monday, January 06, 2014 —With negative temperatures and even lower wind chills throughout much of Nebraska and Iowa, it is important that families and individuals remain vigilant in practicing home fire safety. Although rarely making headlines, home fires are the most common disaster the Red Cross responds to, sending volunteers to the scene of fires at all hours of the day and night to help those affected.

Heat sources such as space heaters, fireplaces or wood and coal stoves can pose a fire hazard. To reduce the risk of heating related fires, the Red Cross recommends keeping anything that can burn such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least three feet away from heating equipment and fireplaces and to never leave these unattended.

“Last month, the Nebraska/SW Iowa Region responded to more than 60 home fires across Nebraska and in portions of Iowa,” said Tina Labellarte, Region CEO. “But the good news is that there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of a home fire.”

Home Fire Safety Tips

  • Keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as space heaters.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Talk to your children regularly about the dangers of fire, matches and lighters and keep them out of reach.
  • Turn portable heaters off when you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • The most effective way to protect yourself and your home from fire is to identify and remove fire hazards. About 65 percent of house fire deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms. During a home fire, working smoke alarms can save lives.

    Smoke Alarm Safety Tips

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
  • Teach your children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one.
  • Once a month check whether each alarm in the home is working properly by pushing the test button.
  • Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year. Immediately install a new battery if an alarm chirps, warning the battery is low.
  • Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years. Never disable smoke or carbon monoxide alarms.
  • Carbon monoxide alarms are not substitutes for smoke alarms. Know the difference between the sound of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms.
  • For more information on home fire safety, download the American Red Cross First Aid App, which provides tips on how to prevent home fires and on severe winter weather safety. This free app is available on the Apple iTunes or Google Play stores. Find all of the Red Cross apps 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 join our blog at