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Red Cross responds to 26 families displaced by home fires during holidays

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RALEIGH, Jan. 3, 2016 — The Red Cross remained busy during the holiday season, responding to 26 families who lost their homes to fires in Eastern NC.

Between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, the Red Cross assisted 78 individuals who were displaced as a result of fires. At each site, the Red Cross provided families with financial assistance if needed, shelter, food, and mental health services.

“While most enjoyed this holiday season by celebrating with family and friends, others were faced with the challenge of rebuilding their lives following unexpected disasters,” said Barry Porter, regional CEO of the Red Cross in Eastern NC. “With temperatures now getting colder, folks turn to alternative heat sources, and when used improperly, can result in fires.”

With snow in the forecast for much of Eastern North Carolina this weekend, the Red Cross reminds community members to be mindful when using alternative heating methods. Stay safe by following these tips: 

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? 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.

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