Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Local Red Cross responds to rash of house fires

The American Red Cross of Scioto Valley is responding to an alarming number of home fires recently, leading to an urgent reminder to citizens to pay extra attention to fire prevention practices. 

During the last week of January, volunteers and staff have provided assistance to individuals impacted by 10 home fires in the four-county area, which includes Fayette, Madison, Pickaway and Ross counties. While exact statistics aren’t immediately available, this represents an unusually high number of home fires in a short period of time.

“We need to remind our friends and neighbors of the need for caution this time of year when it comes to home fires,” said Katie Bottorff, territory manager for the American Red Cross of Scioto Valley. “In addition to being careful in the kitchen, staying warm during this extreme cold sometimes means additional heating sources, and safety measures must be taken.”

Red Cross volunteers have helped more than 25 people, at least five of them children, during the recent rash of home fires. Nearly $5,000 in financial assistance has been provided to those impacted, along with recovery kits, hygiene items and hotel stays when necessary.

Here are some tips to avoid experiencing a fire emergency:

• Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.

• If you are using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away—things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs.

• Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.

• If you are using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.

• Use generators correctly. Never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage.

• Don’t hook up a generator to the home’s wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.

People can test their knowledge on how to prevent home fires by taking a fire safety quiz at redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/prevent-home-fires/test-safety-savvy.

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, visit redcross.org or blog.redcross.org.

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