ALBUQUERQUE ― If you live in regions with seasonal change and cooler weather, it’s time to think about turning your heat back on.
Because heating equipment is a leading cause of home fires, the American Red Cross reminds everyone to be cautious when using heating sources, as well to test their smoke alarms and practice their escape plan in case of a fire.
HEAT YOUR HOME SAFELY
1. All heating equipment needs at least three feet of space. Keep away children, pets and things that can burn, such as paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets and rugs.
2. If you must use a space heater, look for a model that shuts off automatically if the heater falls over. 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.
3. Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.
4. Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
5. Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces and chimneys inspected annually by a professional and cleaned if necessary.
6. Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
7. Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
8. Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless and silent killer that claims hundreds of lives each year in the U.S. When a carbon monoxide alarm sounds, treat the alert as a real emergency each time.
9. Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, which include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness and confusion.
10. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, get quickly to fresh air, and then call 9-1-1.
PREPARE FOR HOME FIRES
Fire experts agree that you may have as little as two minutes to escape a home fire — which is the nation’s most frequent disaster. You can help your family stay safe by practicing your escape plan at least twice a year until everyone can escape in two minutes or less, as well as to test your smoke alarms monthly.
Working smoke alarms can cut the risk of dying in a home fire by half.
For free home fire safety resources, visit redcross.org/homefires or download the free Red Cross Emergency App (search “American Red Cross” in app stores).
In addition, the free Monster Guard: Prepare for Emergencies App provides 7- to 11-year-olds with a fun, gaming environment to learn how to prevent emergencies, including home fires.
HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN
Five years ago, the Red Cross launched the Home Fire Campaign to reduce home fire deaths and injuries in the U.S. Since October 2014, the effort with community partners has helped save at least 642 lives across the country.
As part of the campaign, Red Cross volunteers and community partners go door-to-door throughout the year in high-risk neighborhoods to install free smoke alarms and help people create home fire escape plans. So far, the campaign has:
Installed nearly 2 million free smoke alarms.
Reached more than 1.4 million children through youth preparedness programs.
Made more than 793,000 households safer from the threat of home fires.
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. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.