The American Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters a year -- one every eight minutes -- and most are home fires. As temperatures start to dip across Southeast Louisiana, the American Red Cross urges families to be cautious when using space heaters and other heating sources, and to make a plan in case of a home fire. Heating sources are the second leading cause of home fire deaths, and fatal home fires increase during the winter months.
“Last year, the American Red Cross Southeast Louisiana Chapter responded to about 578 fires in the Greater New Orleans area,” said Kay W. Wilkins, CEO of the American Red Cross Louisiana Region. “But the good news is that there are steps you can take when using heating equipment to reduce your risk of a home fire.”
Heat sources such as space heaters, fireplaces or wood and coal stoves can pose a fire hazard, and fatal fires peak in the early morning hours when most people are sleeping. To reduce the risk of heating related fires, the Red Cross recommends the following tips:
· 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.
· Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended, and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
· Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
· Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
· Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, and chimneys inspected annually by a professional, and cleaned if necessary.
· 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 and never into an extension cord.
Download the Red Cross First Aid App at redcross.org/apps to get access to life-saving information on what to do for common, everyday first aid emergencies including burns.
NATIONWIDE CAMPAIGN Seven times a day someone in this country dies in a fire. The Red Cross has launched a nationwide campaign to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent over the next five years. As part of the campaign the Red Cross is joining fire departments and community groups nationwide to install smoke alarms in communities with high numbers of fires. The Red Cross also is asking every household in America to take the two simple steps that can save lives: checking their existing smoke alarms and practicing fire drills at home.
You can help people affected by disasters like home fires and countless other crises by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
For more Red Cross fire safety and preparedness information, visit redcross.org/homefires.
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 redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.