The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.
As our temperatures decrease, the number of fires in our community increase. Your American Red Cross of the Mid-South volunteers assist an average of three families a day who lose their home to fire.
We are urging everyone to use caution 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.
The good news is that there are steps you can take when using heating equipment to reduce your risk of a home fire. Please check-in with friends, family and neighbors to ensure that they are heating safely as well.
Heat sources such as space heaters, fireplaces or wood and coal stoves can pose a fire hazard, and fatal fires peak in the early morning hours when most people are sleeping. To reduce the risk of heating related fires, the Red Cross recommends the following tips:
• All heaters need space. Keep children, pets and things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.
• Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended, and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
• Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
• Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
• Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, and chimneys inspected annually by a professional, and cleaned if necessary.
• If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs, or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.
You can visit redcross.org/homefires to find out more about how to protect themselves and their loved homes from fire. To find out how you can help and to participate in a smoke detector install event, contact your American Red Cross of the Mid-South at 901-726-1690.