Red Cross Volunteers to Celebrate MLK Day

Fire is the biggest disaster threat to American families—not floods, hurricanes, or tornadoes, said Jerry Kindle, CEO of The American Red Cross of Northwest Florida.

During the upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, volunteers from the American Red Cross will be going door-to-door in Scenic Heights, a neighborhood that experienced several house fires last year, sharing information about how to prevent home fires and how to escape safely should a fire occur.

Volunteers will talk to residents who are available, and will leave safety-tip door hangers for people who are not at home. The door hangers, printed in both English and Spanish, provide cooking and heating tips, highlight the importance of smoke alarms as well as the need to create and practice a fire escape plan.

“Fire is the biggest disaster threat to American families—not floods, hurricanes, or tornadoes,” said Jerry Kindle, CEO of The American Red Cross of Northwest Florida. “And home fires are one disaster that can usually be prevented when people understand how to protect their homes and families.”

Nationally the Red Cross provides food, shelter, comfort and hope to people affected by as many as 70,000 fires annually, or about one fire every eight minutes. The Northwest Florida Chapter responded to over 200 home fires last year.

The American Red Cross offers the following fire prevention tips:

• All heaters need space. Keep all 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.

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 www.yourredcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.