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Red Cross Urges Community to Prevent Home Fires

Firelands Red Cross, Fire Safety News
As people are cooking, entertaining, and stringing lights this holiday season, we’re urging that they take safety measures to ensure that their homes and loved ones are safe.

As families prepare and gather for meals and celebrations this time of year, the American Red Cross urges residents to take extra precautions to prevent fires.

Since November in the St. Louis area, local Red Cross disaster volunteers have provided emergency relief to 65 families after a home fire, and have responded to many more.

“Cooking is the leading cause of home fires, and as people are cooking, entertaining, and stringing lights this holiday season, we’re urging that they take safety measures to ensure that their homes and loved ones are safe,” said Cindy Erickson, Regional CEO of the Red Cross.

Christmas Day, Christmas Eve and Thanksgiving are the top three days for cooking fires, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. Nationally, on average, the Red Cross responds to a disaster every eight minutes, and the vast majority of them are home fires.

The Red Cross has some simple steps everyone can follow to prevent home fires around the holidays:

Holiday Entertaining

  • Test your smoke alarms monthly. Replace the batteries at least once a year.
  • Check food regularly and remain in the home while cooking. Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on.
  • Enforce a “kid-free zone” in the cooking area and make sure children stay at least three feet away from the stove.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stove, oven or any appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
  • Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
  • Purchase a fire extinguisher to keep in the kitchen. Contact the local fire department to receive training on the proper use of extinguishers.
  • Holiday Decorating

  • Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
  • Keep children, pets and decorations away from lit candles.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high in a locked cabinet.
  • Replace any string of lights that has with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini light sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer’s instructions for the number of LED strands to connect. Some strings of lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
  • Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
  • Keep decorations away from windows and doors.
  • The Red Cross is committed to teaching people the skills they need to prevent home fires, and helping people recover after a fire happens. For more information on fire prevention and how to create a fire safety and emergency escape plan for your family, visit

    At any time of day or night, trained Red Cross volunteers are activated to respond to the scene of home fires and provide food, shelter, emotional support and other emergency relief to those affected. On average in the St. Louis area, the Red Cross responds to three fires a day.

    All Red Cross disaster assistance is free to those in need because of generous donations from the community. Help your neighbors recover from disasters like home fires by making a tax-deductible donation to your local Red Cross.

    The Red Cross is part of the “All Ready” campaign, a unified effort among emergency preparedness experts in the bi-state region that focuses on the importance of individual preparedness. The campaign encourages the three critical steps of preparedness: Make a plan, Get a kit, Be informed.

    The American Red Cross Greater St. Louis Region is a proud member agency of the United Way, which makes significant investments every year in Red Cross services.