Safely heating your home and other tips from the American Red Cross

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — As colder weather sets in across Eastern North Carolina, the American Red Cross has some tips for safely heating your home to avoid home fires.

Organization leaders say heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires.

Since December 1st, the American Red Cross ENC regional chapter has helped 362 people with urgent needs after 139 local home fires, including emergency lodging, financial assistance and recovery planning.

“Colder temperatures often bring the increased risk of home heating fires, and we want everyone to stay safe by properly warming their home. The Red Cross recommends families be mindful when heating their homes, especially with the use of space heaters.”

Barry Porter, Regional CEO, American Red Cross Eastern North Carolina

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A 2020 Red Cross survey showed that more than half of us have used a space heater, which is involved in most fatal home heating fires.

Follow these tips to heat your home safely:

  • Provide at least three feet of space around all heating equipment.
  • If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, such as a ceramic tile floor. Don’t place it on rugs and carpets, or near bedding and drapes; keep away children and pets.
  • Plug space heater power cords directly into outlets — never an extension cord. Turn it off every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  • Never leave a fire burning in the fireplace unattended. Make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home. Use a glass or metal fire screen to keep embers in the fireplace.
  • Have furnaces, chimneys, fireplaces, wood and coal stoves inspected annually by a professional and cleaned if necessary.

The American Red Cross also says to test your smoke alarms monthly and practice home fire escape plans until everyone in your household can escape in less than two minutes — the amount of time they say you may have to get out of a burning home before it’s too late.

Visit redcross.org/fire for more information, including an escape plan to practice with your family. You can also download the free Red Cross Emergency app by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in app stores.

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