Temperatures are starting to dip and people are turning their heat on if they live in parts of the country that see colder weather. The American Red Cross urges families to be safe heating their homes to help prevent home fires, which typically rise during colder months.
The Red Cross responds to 27% more home fires in November-March than in warmer weather. According to the National Fire Protection Association — home fires are most common in cooler months when people spend more time inside. Cooking and heating equipment are the leading causes of fires at families’ residences.
A 2020 Red Cross survey showed that more than half of us have used a space heater — which is involved in most fatal home heating fires. It's critical to keep at least three feet of space around all heating equipment, and never leave space heaters unattended. Follow these additional tips:
- If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, such as a ceramic tile floor. Don’t place it on rugs and carpets, or near bedding and drapesl keep away children and pets.
- Plug space heater power cords directly into outlets — never an extension cord. Turn it off every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
- Never leave a fire burning in the fireplaces unattended. Make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home. Use a glass or metal fire screen to keep embers in the fireplace.
- Have furnaces, chimneys, fireplaces, wood and coal stoves inspected annually by a professional and cleaned if necessary.
TWO STEPS TO PREVENT HOME FIRE TRAGEDIES
To help protect your family year-round, test your smoke alarms monthly and practice your home fire escape plan until everyone can escape in less than two minutes — the amount of time you may have to get out of a burning home before it’s too late.
Visit redcross.org/fire for more information, including an escape plan to practice with your family.
You can also download the free Red Cross Emergency app by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in app stores.
HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN Since October 2014, the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign with community partners has saved at least 1,048 lives by educating families about fire safety, helping them create escape plans and installing more than 2.2 million free smoke alarms in high-risk homes across the country.