It’s that time of year when people turn their heat back on if they live in parts of the country that see cooler weather. As temperatures start to dip, the American Red Cross urges families to be cautious when using space heaters and other heating sources, and to make a plan in case of a home fire. Heating sources are the second leading cause of home fire deaths, and fatal home fires increase during the winter months.
HOME HEATING SAFETY
- Have furnaces, chimneys, fireplaces, wood and coal stoves inspected and cleaned before another winter of use.
- If using a space heater, look for a model that shuts off automatically if the heater falls over. Place the heater on a level, hard and nonflammable surface in the home.
- 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.
- Cut down on heating costs. Insulate the home by installing storm windows or covering the inside of windows with plastic to keep cold air out.
- Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
- Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
- Test batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Develop a fire escape plan and practice it with everyone who lives in the home.
HOME FIRE ESCAPE PLAN Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out. The Red Cross recommends two easy steps to help protect your home and to increase your chances of surviving a fire: create and practice a fire escape plan and install and maintain smoke alarms.
- Home fire plans should include at least two ways to escape from every room of your home.
- Select a meeting spot at a safe distance outside your home where family members can meet after a fire.
- Discuss the plan with everyone in the household and practice it at least twice a year. Make sure that you practice that plan until every member of your household can escape in less than two minutes.
Download the free Red Cross Emergency app for instant access to tips on what to do before, during and after a fire. The Monster Guard: Prepare for Emergencies app provides 7- to 11-year-olds with a free, fun, gaming environment to learn how to prevent emergencies including home fires.
HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN Six years ago, the Red Cross launched its Home Fire Campaign to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries in this country. The effort, which began in October of 2014, is presently credited with saving 794 lives (as of September 30, 2020).
Home fires are the most frequent and deadliest disaster in the United States. Every 24 seconds, a fire department in the United States responds to a fire somewhere in the nation, according to the National Fire Protection Association. On average, seven people die every day from these fires and 36 people are injured. Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a home fire in half.
In addition to saving 794 lives, the campaign has:
- Installed over 2.1 million free smoke alarms in more than 892,300 homes across the entire country
- Served more than 2.3 million people through home visits