JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – As we continue to feel the effects of last weekend’s winter storm that hit the Carolinas, the American Red Cross of Eastern North Carolina is urging residents to remain vigilant and share tips they have for staying safe. 

The organization says they have responded to seven household fires since Saturday, displacing a total of 25 people in Eastern North Carolina.

“One of the biggest impacts that happens also in cold weather, and then just gets exacerbated when you have a winter storm is the increase for fires home fires in particular,” said American Red Cross Regional CEO, Barry Porter. 

Porter said a tip to avoid this, especially with the dropping temperatures, is to test your smoke alarm and make sure it’s working.  

“That’s the most productive and safe way to get out of your home. You have about two minutes once a fire starts. So test your smoke alarm and have an evacuation plan,” said Porter. 

In addition to that, the American Red Cross urges residents to heat their homes safely. They say heaters, fireplaces, and wood or coal stoves can pose a fire hazard.  

“As weather is colder here in the winter months, people use alternative heating sources, they overload circuitry trying to stay warm,” said Porter. 

Giving heaters space, never leaving a fireplace unattended, and not using ovens to heat your home are some tips they share. Another thing ENC saw over the weekend was power outages. Some things they recommend doing to stay safe during outages are using flashlights instead of candles, not using generators inside, and only driving if necessary. 

“Of course, stock up your vehicle, keep it fueled, slow down in winter weather, and then take safety precautions of advisory advice from local law enforcement officials,” said Porter. 

They also add they’re in the middle of a disastrous blood supply shortage and the recent winter storm did not help the situation. They urge residents to donate if they can by going to redcross.org and finding a location to help save lives.