Red Cross Responds to 185 Fires in January

Fire Safety

FLORENCE, S.C., Monday, Feb. 3 – Since Jan. 1, the American Red Cross Palmetto SC Region has helped 612 individuals affected by 185 home fires. The region, which consists of 35 out of 46 counties in South Carolina, has seen an increase of 50 fires over the same period in 2013, when the region responded to 135 fires and assisted 443 people.

“It’s been a busy start to the year,” said Linda Boone-Smith, Pee Dee Chapter executive director. “Since Jan. 1, our dedicated staff and volunteers have been working to provide disaster relief to people affected by home fires. The Red Cross is here to help with emergency shelter, essential hygiene items, health services, and emotional support people may need as they recover from a home fire.”

Peak fire season began in October and will run through March and the Red Cross is offering these fire prevention tips:

• Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.
• If you are using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away – things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs. Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.
• If you are using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
• Use generators correctly – never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage.

To prevent kitchen fires remember the following:

• 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.

Another step to get one’s household ready is to build an emergency kit. The Red Cross Pee Dee Chapter can help the community prepare through a Duke Energy Foundation-funded grant called Be Ready Backpack. This ongoing project will equip residents in the Pee Dee with preparedness information to begin their planning process, as well as provide them with a tangible tool — the Be Ready Backpack — to inspire immediate action. The backpack, to be distributed throughout the Pee Dee, will contain Duke Energy power outage information and safety tips for operating generators, and will include Red Cross

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 Learn more about fire safety by visiting

The Red Cross needs community’s support for victims of home fires and other disasters. It takes $1,250 to support a family of four impacted by fire. Anyone interested in making a financial contribution to the American Red Cross can visit or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or by contacting their local Red Cross chapter at 843-662-8121.

Because of trained disaster volunteers and financial assistance from the community, Red Cross has been able to help more than 2,800 people affected by disasters in the Palmetto SC region since July 1, 2013.  On average, the American Red Cross, Palmetto SC Region responds to a disaster every 6.5 hours.  The Palmetto SC Region is made up of seven Red Cross chapters spanning 35-counties of South Carolina.

About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission.  For more information, please visit