Stay safe AND warm this winter

We all know during the winter months it can get pretty chilly and outright fa-fa-freezing. Some of us  just can’t afford the expense of putting the heat high, so we find creative ways to keep warm and to save money. So sometimes we turn to space heaters and fireplaces instead.

But did you know, space heaters are the second most common cause of house fires after cooking fires? It may sound economical, but it can be risky if not used properly.

The most effective way to stay safe this winter is to follow a few rules:

  • When it comes to space heaters, keep them at least three feet away from any flammable object. Space heaters are often used in bedrooms, where sheets and blankets may get too close to them, as well as furniture. Never leave space heaters unattended. Shut them off and allow them to cool before going to bed, and only buy space heaters with the ability to shut off automatically if it tips over or overheats.
  • Make sure that chimneys are professionally cleaned every year for fireplaces and stoves, don’t restrict air supply and burn only dry fuel to reduce buildup. Accumulated buildup in the fireplace can ignite a fire.
  • A few others ways of preventing house fires? Avoid smoking in bed, and talk to your children about the dangers of playing with matches, both of which are causes of home fires as well.

And make sure you’re ready for the worst:

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
  • Teach your children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one.
  • Once a month check whether each alarm in the home is working properly by pushing the test button.
  • Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year. Immediately install a new battery if an alarm chirps, warning the battery is low.
  • Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years. Never disable smoke or carbon monoxide alarms.
  • Carbon monoxide alarms are not substitutes for smoke alarms. Know the difference between the sound of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms.
  • Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home.
  • Make sure everyone knows where to meet outside in case of fire.
  • Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year and at different times of the day. Practice waking up to smoke alarms, low crawling and meeting outside. Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.
  • Teach household members to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire.

Simple precautions can help you have a safe and warm winter, and The Red Cross wants you to enjoy yourself!

-Erica Starke

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