The region has been enjoying mild December weather, but as we approach the official start of winter, the American Red Cross urges New Jersey families to be cautious when using space heaters and other heating sources when the temperatures begin to dip.
The American Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters a year -- one every eight minutes -- and most are home fires. Heating sources are a leading cause of home fire deaths, and fatal home fires increase during the winter months.
“The greatest disaster threat isn’t hurricanes or flooding, it’s home fires,” said Steven Sarinelli, regional disaster officer, American Red Cross New Jersey Region. “We encourage families to take simple steps when using heating equipment to reduce the risk of a home fire.”
Heat sources such as space heaters, fireplaces or wood and coal stoves can pose a fire hazard, and many fatal fires occur 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:
As colder weather rolls in, the Red Cross typically sees an increase in home fires. You can help protect yourself and your family should a home fire occur by practicing your fire escape plan and testing your smoke alarms.
PRACTICE YOUR FIRE ESCAPE PLAN Fire experts agree that when a fire breaks out families have as little as two minutes to escape from their burning home. Regularly practiced fire escape plans ensure all members of your household know what to do should a fire occur. Make sure everyone is able to exit the home in less than two minutes. If you don’t have a fire escape plan, develop one today.
CHECK YOUR SMOKE ALARMS All residences should have properly installed, functioning smoke alarms. Check the batteries in your smoke alarms monthly and replace any that aren’t operational immediately. At minimum, smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
For more information or to access free fire safety tools and resources, visit redcross.org/firesafety.