Red Cross Offers Fire Prevention Tips
As temperatures start to dip across the country, the American Red Cross urges families to be cautious when using space heaters and other heating sources, and to plan ahead for the possibility of a home fire. Home heating fires increase during the late fall and winter months, and portable heating fires are more deadly than others.
Fires kill more Americans each year than all natural disasters combined, and the Red Cross urges families to develop a fire escape plan and to take steps toward fire prevention and safety. Preparedness is important for all families, and African American families are disproportionately more affected by home fires.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, African Americans make up less than 13 percent of the U.S. population but represent 25 percent of all fire deaths, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Children are even more affected within the African-American community, as they are more than twice as likely to die in a home fire than the rest of the African-American population.
"Every year in Southern Pines, home fires are the single most common disaster threat," says Susan Marentette of the Moore County Chapter. "In fact, the Moore County Chapter responded to more than 50 home fires last year, and provided more than 55 families with immediate emergency assistance.
"The good news is that preparing for a home fire doesn't require a lot of expensive equipment or training. In addition to functioning smoke alarms, one of the easiest ways to prepare is to develop and practice a home fire escape plan so that every family member, including young children and the elderly, can escape quickly and safely."
Fire escape plans include at least two exit routes for every room in the home, and a convenient meeting place at a safe distance from the fire. Escape ladders should be used and stored near windows in floors above ground level, and all family members should know how to locate and use the ladders safely. Families should practice their escape plan at least twice a year.
Nearly once a week, the Moore County Chapter provides fire victims with assistance for food, clothing, prescription medications, temporary shelter and other special needs an affected family might have. This relief is made possible by generous donations from people throughout our county.
For more Red Cross fire safety and preparedness information, visit www.redcross.org/homefires.
Preventing Home Heating Fires
-- Keep potential fuel sources (newspapers, matches, bedding, clothing, carpets and rugs) at least three feet away from heat sources, such as space heaters, fireplaces and stoves.
-- Provide constant adult supervision in rooms with lit candles or fires.
-- Keep fire in the fireplace by using glass or metal fire screens.
-- Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house.
-- Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
-- Switch 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.
-- Place space heaters, place them on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
For more information, contact the Moore County Chapter of the American Red Cross at 910-692-8571 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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