By Krista Farley Raines, Regional Communications & Marketing Director, American Red Cross – West Virginia Region
Winter weather has finally arrived in the Mountain State, blanketing the region in beautiful – but potentially hazardous – snow. To help you better prepare yourself for winter emergencies, our friends from the American Red Cross West Virginia Region are guest blogging a two-part series about winter weather safety procedures for your home and your car. (Part two will post later this week.)
The American Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters every year in this country. No one hears about the vast majority of these emergencies — the home fires that affect a single family, many of whom escape with only the clothes on their backs. Heating sources are the second leading cause of home fire deaths, and fatal home fires increase during the winter months. In addition, the National Fire Protection Association states that half of all home heating fires occur in December, January and February.
Here are some ways you can stay safe during this winter season:
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
- Test the batteries in your smoke alarms once a month, and change them if they’re not working.
- Create an escape plan that includes two exits from each room and practice it until everyone in your household can get out in less than two minutes.
- Follow the “three feet” rule and keep children, pets and flammable items at least three feet from heating equipment. Turn off portable space heaters when you leave the room and when you go to sleep.
- Use gas wisely and never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home. Four percent of Americans admit to having used a gas stove to heat their home.
- If using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
- Never use a generator indoors, even in a garage, carport, basement or crawlspace. Fumes from the generator can be deadly.
If you would like the Red Cross to install free smoke alarms in your home and assist in developing a fire escape plan please call 1-844-216-8286 to schedule an appointment. To learn more about winter safety, visit redcross.org.