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Montana Red Cross Respond to Weather-Related Emergencies around the State

Bozeman, MT, December 9, 2013 – The American Red Cross is responding to home fires and weather-related emergencies around the state as the cold weather continues to cause havoc in many communities. After a week of very cold weather, power outages and other hazardous conditions, the humanitarian organization wants to reassure everyone that its volunteer teams are assisting many individuals and families with food, lodging and other emergency supplies and that the organization is ready to open overnight shelters and warming stations should larger groups require help during this prolonged cold spell.

“Our disaster action teams have been busy this past week with numerous house fires and other emergencies across Montana. We want our fellow Montanans to know that we are ready to help anyone who is experiencing weather-related emergencies,” explains Rod Kopp, CEO of Montana Red Cross. “Anyone requiring assistance can call us at 1-800-272-6668 and ask for the duty officer on call.”

The Red Cross also wants to remind everyone to be especially careful around the holidays, as the number of house fires always goes up in December.

“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 from the threat of fire,” said Kopp.

Christmas Day, Christmas Eve and Thanksgiving are the top three days for cooking fires, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. Each year approximately 2,500 Americans perish in home fires — that's nearly seven deaths every single day. Sadly, many of these tragedies could have been prevented.

Here are a few holiday safety tips:

Holiday Entertaining

  • Test your smoke alarms.
  • Check food regularly while cooking 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 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 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.
  • People can test their knowledge on how to prevent home fires by taking the Fire Safety Quiz, and can learn more about fire prevention by visiting redcross.org/montana.

    People should also download the free American Red Cross First Aid app, which provides instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies. The apps can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/mobileapps.

    As people look for meaningful gifts this year, the Montana Red Cross invites everyone to visit www.redcross.org/montana where they can purchase a variety of symbolic gifts in the name of the people on their gift list this year. Shoppers can buy things like infant care kits for babies in emergency shelters, comfort kits for wounded warriors, or water containers used when natural disasters disrupt a community’s water supply overseas. Catalog purchases come with greeting cards shoppers can send to a friend or loved one, letting them know a donation has been made in their name. The purchase of each gift item is a tax-deductible contribution that supports the mission of the Red Cross. Donations can also be made via our website at redcross.org/montana, via phone at 1-800-272-6668, or my mail: American Red Cross of Montana, 1300 28th Street South, Great Falls, Mt 59718. Each gift helps us help others, so please give generously.

    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 redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.