Red Cross urges caution heating homes as weather gets colder

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Oklahoma City, October 4, 2012— Local forecasts are calling for the first round of cold weather in Oklahoma. As temperatures start to dip, the American Red Cross urges families to be cautious when using space heaters and other heating sources, and to make a plan in case of a home fire. Heating sources are the leading cause of house and apartment fires during the cold weather.

Heat sources such as space heaters, fireplaces or wood and coal stoves can pose a fire hazard. To reduce the risk of heating related fires, the Red Cross recommends keeping anything that can burn such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least three feet away from heating equipment and fireplaces and to never leave these unattended.

“In the last year the Central and Western Oklahoma Region responded to 440 house fires and 35 multi-family fires (apartments, condos, etc.) across the region.” said Janienne Bella, Central and Western Oklahoma Region CEO.  “But the good news is that there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of a home fire all year and during the chilly weather.”

The American Red Cross wants the number of house fires not to rise as the temperatures drop, so it offers the following fire prevention tips:

  • All heaters need space.  Keep all 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.

For more Red Cross fire safety and preparedness information, visit www.redcross.org/homefires.                                  

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. To learn more go online to www.okc.redcross.org .

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