RALEIGH, Dec. 5, 2016 — November proved to be a devastating month for Eastern North Carolina as the Red Cross responded to 143 families displaced by home fires.
As a result of the fires, Red Cross assisted 510 individuals – more than 16 people a day. Home fire response comes in addition to aiding families in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. In October and November combined, nearly 240 families were rendered homeless because of fires.
“Eastern North Carolina families are hurting this holiday season. Hundreds lost their homes to Hurricane Matthew in October, now hundreds more are left without a place to call home as a result of house fires,” said Barry Porter, regional chief executive officer of the Red Cross in Eastern North Carolina. “At the Red Cross, it’s our job to let families know they are not alone.”
During winter months when temperatures drop, the number of home fires goes up, often times caused by the use of alternate heating methods. At every disaster, the Red Cross is there to provide families with financial assistance, shelter, food, and mental health services if needed.
HOME HEATING SAFETY Have furnaces, chimneys, fireplaces, wood and coal stoves inspected and cleaned before another winter of use. Test batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Review your home fire escape plan.
SPACE HEATERS Nearly half of the households in the United States use alternative heating sources such as space heaters, fireplaces, or wood/coal stoves to stay warm. Fixed and portable space heaters, including wood stoves, are involved in 74 percent of fire-related deaths.
If someone is using a space heater, the Red Cross recommends that people look for a model that shuts off automatically if the heater falls over. Space heaters should be placed on a level, hard and nonflammable surface in the home. Other safety tips include:
• Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces.
• Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.
• Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
HOW CAN YOU HELP THIS HOLIDAY SEASON? Make a contribution – big or small – so the Red Cross can continue to lend a hand to every family affected by a disaster: www.redcross.org/enc. Or, volunteer to help families on the scene of a disaster: www.redcross.org/volunteer.
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.