Heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fires in this country and half of the fires attributed to heating equipment occur in December, January and February.
In January alone, the American Red Cross responded to more than 5,200 home fires all over the U.S. The Red Cross urges families to be safe heating their homes by following these important steps:
SPACE HEATERS A 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.
- 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.
- 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.
DON’T DO THIS Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
- Never leave a fire burning in a 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.
WHAT YOU CAN DO You may only have two minutes to get out of a burning home before it’s too late. 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. Visit redcross.org/fire for more information, including an escape plan to practice with your family.
- Have furnaces, chimneys, fireplaces, wood and coal stoves inspected annually by a professional and cleaned if necessary.
- 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.
- Learn about the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, launched with community partners in 2014 to help prevent fire tragedies. So far, the campaign has saved at least 1,505 lives nationwide by helping families create escape plans, installing free smoke alarms and educating them about fire safety in high-risk communities.
VOLUNTEER Throughout the month of January, Red Cross Disaster Action Team members provided fire victims all over the country with immediate assistance such as a place to stay and clothes to wear, and worked with them to help plan their next steps. As a Disaster Action Team volunteer, you can be a source of refuge and support when it’s needed most. From home fires to storms, unexpected emergencies happen every day, but you can help as a Red Cross volunteer. Check out this link for more information.