The American Red Cross reminds people to take precautions when heating their homes during the frigid temperatures that are affecting South Carolina this weekend. The 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 one of the leading causes of home fire deaths and fatal home fires increase during the winter months.
“While the cold forecast for us will be short in duration this time, it’s a reminder that winter is not over yet,” said Louise Welch Williams, regional chief executive officer for American Red Cross in South Carolina. “It’s a good time to reacquaint yourself with some cold weather tips to keep your family safe until spring arrives.”
Heat sources such as space heaters, fireplaces or wood and coal stoves can pose a fire hazards. Fatal fires peak in the early morning hours when most people are sleeping. As families turn to alternative heating sources to supplement their home heating systems, the Red Cross recommends families take the following precautions:
- Use caution with portable space heaters
- To prevent fire, place space heaters at least three feet away from anything combustible, including wallpaper, bedding, clothing, pets, and people.
- Never leave space heaters operating when you are not in the room or when you go to bed.
- Don't leave children or pets unattended near space heaters.
- Drying towels, or wet mittens or other clothing over space heaters is a fire hazard.
- Don't overload your electrical outlets when plugging in space heaters. Be careful of extension cords that present hazardous walkways.
- Make sure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are working properly and replace batteries as necessary.
- Use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
- Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended.
- Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
- Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, and chimneys inspected annually by a professional, and cleaned if necessary.
People can take two steps to protect themselves and their loved ones and increase their chances of surviving a fire.
- Every household should develop a fire escape plan and practice it several times a year and at different times of the day.
- Include two ways to get out of every room and consider escape ladders for sleeping areas or homes on the second floor or above.
- Pick a place outside for everyone to meet and make sure everyone knows where it is.
- Practice that home fire drill until everyone in the household can do it in less than two minutes.
- Install smoke alarms on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Test them every month and replace the batteries at least once a year.
Every 3.9 hours in South Carolina the Red Cross helps a family after a home fire. For more information about home fire preparedness, to become a Red Cross volunteer, or to make a financial contribution to Red Cross, call 843-76-2323 or visit www.redcross.org/SC.