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ARC Assists More Than 150 Victims of SC Home Fires in 3 Days

Looking Back at 2014 and Giving Thanks
Please remember to check on your friends and neighbors and reach out if you or they need assistance.

With the decrease in temperatures, the Red Cross has seen an increase in home fires throughout South Carolina. Since Monday, when the cold first hit, the Red Cross has responded to more than 40 home fires, assisting more than 150 people with their immediate needs, including lodging, food, clothing, and comfort kits. The number of people assisted is continuing to increase.

“Above all else, we want people to be warm and safe,” said Louise Welch Williams, regional chief executive officer of the American Red Cross in South Carolina. “Please remember to check on your friends and neighbors and reach out if you or they need assistance.”

Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires. 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, they should take the following precautions.

  • Use caution with portable space heaters - Heating equipment is the leading cause of home fires during the winter months, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. About two-thirds of home heating fire deaths are caused by portable or fixed 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.
  • If you or someone you know needs assistance in ensuring that safe heating practices are being followed, contact your local American Red Cross office or fire department.

    In addition to responding to the home fires, the American Red Cross is working with county emergency management offices to support shelters and warming centers around the state. An easy way to find an open shelter is to download the free Red Cross Shelter Finder App. The app displays open Red Cross shelters on an easy to use map interface and is updated every 30 minutes. More information on the app is available at http://www.redcross.org/mobile-apps/shelter-finder-app.

    In South Carolina, the American Red Cross, on average, responds to a disaster every four hours. Because of volunteers and financial assistance from the community, the Red Cross was able to help more than 7,000 individuals affected by disasters in South Carolina last year.

    To help neighbors affected by disasters, become a Red Cross volunteer or make a financial contribution to Red Cross by calling 843-764-2323 or visiting www.redcross.org. For more preparedness tips follow us on Twitter at @RedCrossSC.