DALLAS, DECEMBER 22, 2022 — As temperatures drop in Texas this week and wind chills plunging into the single digits or lower, the American Red Cross North Texas Region urges everyone to safely heat their home by following critical steps to avoid a home fire.
Heating equipment is the leading cause of home fire deaths, with most occurring from space heaters. Overall, home fires account for most of the 60,000-plus disasters that the Red Cross responds to each year across the U.S. From 2019 through 2021, home fire responses in the North Texas Region were 52% higher during colder months, well above the 30% national average for the cold months.
“Colder temperatures often bring the increased risk of home fires, which are the most frequent disaster in our country,” said Katrina Farmer, Regional Disaster Officer, Red Cross North Texas Region. “Help keep your family safe by providing at least three feet of space for all heating equipment, testing your smoke alarms monthly and practicing your two-minute home fire escape plan.”
SAFELY HEAT YOUR HOME
Follow these safety tips and 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 “American Red Cross” in app stores.
- Keep children, pets and anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment.
- If you must use a space heater, never leave it unattended. 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.
- Plug space heater power cords directly into outlets — never into an extension cord. Turn the space heater 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 fireplace 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.
- KEEPING WARM OUTSIDE
- Wear layered clothing, mittens or gloves, and a hat. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water-repellent.
- Mittens will keep your hands warmer than gloves.
- Keep dry. Wet clothing loses much of its insulting value and transmits heat rapidly away from the body.
- Avoid over exertion, such as exercising outdoors.
EMERGENCY KIT FOR HOME
- Water: one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
- Food: non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
- Extra batteries
- Deluxe family first aid kit
- Medications (7-day supply) and medical items
- Multi-purpose tool
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items
- Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
- Cell phone with chargers
- Family and emergency contact information
- Extra cash
- Emergency blanket
- Map(s) of the area
IF YOU NEED HELP
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
HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN SAVES LIVES Since October 2014, the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign with community partners has saved at least 1,478 lives — including 11 in the North Texas Region — by educating families about fire safety, helping them create escape plans and installing more than 2.4 million free smoke alarms in high-risk neighborhoods across the country. Visit redcross.org/homefires for more information.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org/northtexas or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCrossNTX.