Tragically, January 2022 was heartbreaking for many families due to home fires across the country, with as many as 328 lives lost in fires in that month alone.
In January, the American Red Cross responded to more than 6,600 home fires, providing help to nearly 25,000 people. Red Cross’ hearts go out to all those who have been affected by these tragedies.
Home fire safety
The Red Cross has steps people can follow to help them stay safe should a fire happen in their home. Users can protect themselves from home fires by taking two simple steps: test smoke alarms monthly and practice a fire escape plan.
- Test smoke alarms monthly. Working smoke alarms can cut the risk of dying in a home fire by half. Place smoke alarms on each level of the home, and inside and outside bedrooms and sleeping areas. Change the batteries at least once a year, if the model requires it. Also, check the manufacturer’s date of the smoke alarms. If they’re 10 years or older, they need to be replaced because the sensor becomes less sensitive over time. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Practice an escape plan until everyone can get out in less than two minutes. To create the home fire escape plan, including at least two ways to exit every room in the home. Select a meeting spot at a safe distance away from their homes, such as a neighbor’s home or landmark like a specific tree in the front yard, where everyone knows to meet. Teach children what a smoke alarm sounds like. Talk about fire safety and what to do in an emergency.
Steps to help heat home safely
One of the leading causes of home fires is home heating and space heaters are most often responsible for these fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
- Have furnaces, chimneys, fireplaces, wood, and coal stoves inspected and cleaned before another winter of use.
- If using a space heater, look for a model that shuts off automatically if the heater falls over. Place the heater on a level, hard and nonflammable surface in the home.
- Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding, curtains, or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces.
- Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.
- Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
- Never use a cooking range or oven to heat the home.
- Keep fire in the fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
- Test batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.