Heat Your Home Safely: Important Winter Safety Tips From the Red Cross to Prepare for Cooler Weather by 30Seconds Health
The days are getting shorter and the temperatures cooler, signs that it’s the time of year when many people turn the heat back on in their homes. It’s also the time of year when the number of home fires goes up, oftentimes caused by the use of alternate heating methods. The American Red Cross has steps people should follow as they get their homes ready for cooler weather.
“It’s important to take steps to get your home ready for winter,” said Celena Roldán, CEO of the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois. “The Red Cross responds to about 64,000 disasters every year across the country, and most of them are home fires. We urge people to follow these steps to be ready for the cooler weather.”
Home Heating Safety
- Make sure flashlights are available throughout the house and they have fresh batteries. Winter storms can lead to power outages.
- Insulate the home by installing storm windows or covering the inside of windows with plastic to keep cold air out.
- Develop a fire escape plan and practice it with everyone who lives in the home.
- Prepare a disaster supply kit to have ready should winter storms hit. The kit should include a three-day supply of food and water per person, flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio and extra batteries. Other things to have on hand for the winter include sand; rock salt or kitty litter to make walkways and steps less slippery; warm coats, gloves or mittens; hats; boots and warm clothing for all household members; and extra blankets.
- Winterize your vehicle.
- Consider buying emergency heating equipment, such as a wood- or coal-burning stove or an electric or kerosene heater.
Nearly half of the households in this country use alternative heating sources such as space heaters, fireplaces or wood/coal stoves to stay warm. Fixed and portable space heaters, including wood stoves, are involved in 74 percent of fire-related deaths.
If someone is using a space heater, the Red Cross recommends that people look for a model that shuts off automatically if the heater falls over. Space heaters should be placed on a level, hard and nonflammable surface in the home. Other safety tips include:
- Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs at least 3 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.
Download the free Red Cross Emergency App at redcross.org/apps for heating safety and winter storm tips. To learn more about the campaign and home fire safety, visit RedCross.org/homefires.
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