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Tips For Avoiding Winter Fires While Heating Homes

American Red Cross Urges Caution When Heating Homes

ROGERS, AR, (RELEASE) - As temperatures start to dip across the state, the American Red Cross in Arkansas urges families to be cautious when using space heaters and other heating sources, and to make a plan in case of a home fire. Heating sources are the leading cause of winter fires, and increase during the fall through February.

Heat sources such as space heaters, fireplaces or wood and coal stoves can pose a fire hazard. To reduce the risk of heating related fires, the Red Cross recommends keeping anything that can burn such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least three feet away from heating equipment and fireplaces and to never leave these unattended.

"American Red Cross Disaster Responders provide disaster relief to home fire victims at least five times every day statewide," American Red Cross in Arkansas Communications Specialist Rick Harvey said. "Last year the Northwest Arkansas Chapter responded to more than 150 home fires across the northwest region. The good news is that there are preventive steps you can take to reduce your risk of a home fire."

The American Red Cross offers the following fire prevention tips:
· Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, and chimneys inspected annually by a professional to check for damage or to clean and service if necessary.
· All fire sources, heaters, fireplaces, space heaters, need clear space. Keep all things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.
· Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
· Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
· Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
· If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs, carpets or near bedding or drapes. Plug power cords directly into outlets; never into an extension cord.

For more Red Cross fire safety and preparedness information, visit www.redcross.org/arkansas

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