If you happen to live in areas that experience colder weather, it’s starting to get chilly and you may be turning your heat on. Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fires in this country and the American Red Cross urges families to take steps to heat their home safely.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fire departments respond to more than 44,200 home heating fires each year which cause hundreds of deaths and more than 1,300 injuries.
Also, the NFPA reports space heaters are most often responsible for home heating fires and a Red Cross survey showed that more than half of us have used one. 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 drapes. And keep children and pets away from the heater.
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.
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.
If you cannot afford to purchase smoke alarms or are physically unable to install one, the Red Cross may be able to help. Contact your local Red Cross for help.
Visit redcross.org/fire for more information, including an escape plan to practice with your family. Download the free Red Cross First Aid app so you’ll know what to do if emergency help is delayed and the free Emergency app for weather alerts, open Red Cross shelter locations and safety steps for different emergencies. Choose whether you want to view the content in English or Spanish with an easy-to-find language selector. Find these and all of the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN SAVE LIVES Since October 2014, the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, working with community partners, has saved at least 1,928 lives by educating families about fire safety, helping them create escape plans and installing free smoke alarms in high-risk areas across the country. To learn more about the campaign and how you can get involved, visit redcross.org/homefires.