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Out in the Cold: Help Needed for Home Fire Survivors

Home Fire Safety

Red Cross sees spike in home fires during cold weather

As the relentless winter continues, the need to help those left out in the cold by devastating home fires is critical, according to the American Red Cross. The Red Cross is urging the public to help families by donating to the #GiveWhatFireTakes campaign.

The Red Cross helps fire victims with food, clothing and shelter and has seen its volume of cases nationwide go from 5,000 a month in the fall of 2014 to more than 8,000 per month recently. Moreover, when compared to the summer and fall months of 2014, the monthly amount of assistance provided to fire victims in January has increased by over $1 million.

And it’s not just families in areas like the Northeast and Mid-West who are at risk. Areas in the South are experiencing cold and subsequent home fires, too. For example, the Red Cross teams have responded to 590 home fires in Georgia alone since January 1.

More than one-third (37%) of home structure fire deaths occur during the winter months of December, January and February, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Moreover, the United States Fire Administration reports indicate that 885 lives have been lost thus far to home fires from December 1, 2014 through March 5, 2015. The winter is far from over in many areas around the country, and the Red Cross is urging Americans to stay vigilant and safeguard themselves against the threat of home fires.

Here are the five ways you can stay safe and fire free as you wait for spring to arrive:

  • Follow the three feet rule. Heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fire deaths. Keep children, pets and anything flammable at least three feet away from heating equipment. Turn off portable space heaters when you leave the room and when you go to sleep.
  • Use gas wisely. Four percent of Americans admit to having used a gas stove to heat their home. Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  • Flashlights, not candles. Use battery operated flashlights or lanterns instead of candles during power outages.
  • Sound the alarm. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Test smoke alarms once a month, if they’re not working, change the batteries.
  • Plan and practice. Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home. Make sure everyone knows where to meet outside in case of fire. Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year and at different times of the day.
  • How You Can Help

    When a fire takes a home, it takes everything. Donations today can turn into tangible items tomorrow for those in need across the country. To help those affected by home fires, please visit, call 1-800-REDCROSS or go to our Crowdrise page at Your donation could help provide care and comfort to families.

    Media: Spokespersons and images available by calling the Red Cross national media team at (202) 303-5551 or by emailing

    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 or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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