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Red Cross Responds to Nearly 60% More Home Fires in New Year

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In the first nine days of the new year, the American Red Cross responded to nearly 60 percent more home fires than in 2017.

Red Cross volunteers across the country have already responded to 3,150 home fires in the first nine days of the year, compared to 2,003 fires in 2017. Some of this may be attributed to the recent string of dangerously cold days, as colder temperatures are often linked to a rise in home fires. Heating, holiday decorations, winter storms and candles all contribute to an increased risk of fire during the winter months, according to the National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Fire Administration.

After a home fire, a Red Cross volunteer is often among the first on the scene – offering emotional support, helping those affected to find a place to stay and assisting with recovery. As of January 9, the Red Cross has already opened 4,400 cases to help a total of 12,500 people get back on their feet after home fires in 2018.

LOCAL EFFORTS Here in Central Florida, local Red Cross volunteers responded to more than 60 fires by January 10, compared to 30 home fires during the same time in 2017. The number of families assisted in these cases rose from 50 to 81 – an increase of 62 percent.

“Home fires are devastating for the people involved and responsible for a number of deaths and injuries. Sadly, we’ve seen double the number of home fires compared to last year at this time, including loss of life,” said Jennifer Pipa, CEO of the American Red Cross Central Florida. “That is why our Home Fire Campaign is so important. We want to help save lives by installing smoke alarms in homes that don’t have them and educating people about home fire safety.”

As part of the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, Central Florida preparedness volunteers will install free smoke alarms over the upcoming Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service weekend. The Day of Service occurs on Monday, January 15, to honor the life of Dr. King.

Two Tampa installation events are scheduled for Saturday, January 13:

* Red Cross and community volunteers will canvass a neighborhood in the USF area – meeting at 8:30am at the University Area Community Center, 14013 North 22nd Street.

* Red Cross volunteers are also supporting a rally led by Tampa Fire Rescue in a second neighborhood.

WHAT CAN PEOPLE DO? The Red Cross is asking every household in America to take steps that can help save lives. Find out more here. In addition to preparing your home and family, volunteers are needed in many areas to help install smoke alarms in at-risk communities.

Everyone can also follow these tips to help prevent a fire in their home:

* Keep all potential sources of fuel - paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs - at least three feet away from sources of heat.

* Never leave portable heaters and fireplaces unattended.

* Place space heaters on a level, hard and nonflammable surface. Keep children and pets away from space heaters. Look for models that shut off automatically if the heater falls over.

* Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.

* Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen.

HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN SAVES 332 LIVES The Red Cross responds to as many as 64,000 disasters every year and most of these are home fires. Sadly, seven times a day someone in this country dies in a home fire.

To combat these statistics, the Red Cross launched its Home Fire Campaign in 2014, focusing on installing free smoke alarms in neighborhoods at high risk for fires and teaching people about fire safety. Since the start of the campaign, the Red Cross and partners have installed more than 1 million smoke alarms and helped to save 332 lives.

The Red Cross depends on the generous support of the American public to fulfill its crucial mission. If someone would like to help, please consider making a donation today by visiting www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 gift.

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 cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.