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Red Cross: How to safely heat your home as cold weather sets in across the Mile High area

Heating equipment is the leading cause of home fire deaths

Denver, November 14, 2022 — As temperatures drop in the Mile High area, the American Red Cross Mile High Chapter urges everyone to safely heat their home by following critical steps to avoid a home fire.

Heating equipment is the leading cause of home fire deaths, with most occurring from space heaters. Last year, volunteers responded to over 180 home fires across the Mile High area and assisted nearly 830 people. Overall, home fires account for most of the 60,000-plus disasters that the Red Cross responds to each year across the U.S. —where home fire responses are 23% higher during cold months than warmer times of year.

“Colder temperatures often bring the increased risk of home fires, which are the most frequent disaster in our country,” said Gino Greco, Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross of Colorado and Wyoming. “Help keep your family safe by providing at least three feet of space for all heating equipment, testing your smoke alarms monthly and practicing your two-minute home fire escape plan.”

HOW TO SAFELY HEAT YOUR HOME Follow these safety tips and 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 “American Red Cross” in app stores.

  • Keep children, pets and anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment.
  • If you must use a space heater, never leave it unattended. 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.
  • Plug space heater power cords directly into outlets — never into an extension cord. Turn the space heater 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.

IF YOU NEED HELP If you cannot afford to purchase smoke alarms or are physically unable to install one, the Red Cross may be able to help. Contact your local Red Cross for help.

HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN SAVES LIVES Since October 2014, the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign with community partners has saved at least  450 lives — including 8 in Colorado and Wyoming — by educating families about fire safety, helping them create escape plans and installing more than 2.4 million free smoke alarms in high-risk neighborhoods across the country. Visit redcross.org/homefires for more information.

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