The American Red Cross urges residents to take extra precautions to help prevent home fires – the most common disaster threat to families in this country. The American Red Cross responds to a disaster every eight minutes and most of these emergencies are home fires.
When a fire hits someone’s home, it can be dangerous and devastating. The family involved may lose everything they own. At any time of day or night, Disaster Action Teams of trained Red Cross volunteers are activated to respond to fires and provide emergency assistance with temporary lodging, food, clothing, and emotional support to help those affected.
Since November 1st, the Red Cross North Jersey Region has helped 138 families affected by home fires. Red Cross volunteers have responded to 51 fires in 41 days, providing emergency assistance to more than 449 people. Fires have displaced families from their homes in towns throughout the region including New Brunswick, Wayne, Elizabeth, Carteret, Trenton, Hopatcong, Jersey City, Irvington, Passaic, Bound Brook, Montclair, Newark and Parsippany.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO With the cold weather here and holiday decorating underway, please take caution with items that can be hazardous such as candles and space heaters – common items that can turn dangerous very quickly.
To help avoid a fire in the home, there are steps you can take now:
- Keep anything that can catch on fire—pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from your stove top.
- Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to sleep.
- Place Christmas trees, candles, and other holiday decorations at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, portable heaters, radiators, heat vents and candles.
- If you purchase a real tree, make sure that it has fresh, green needles that aren’t easily broken. Keep live trees as moist as possible by giving them plenty of water.
- Don’t overload electrical sockets. Make sure that light strings and other holiday decorations are in good condition. Do not use anything with frayed electrical cords and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Always unplug tree and holiday lights before leaving home or going to bed.
- Never use lit candles to decorate a tree. Always extinguish candles before leaving the room or going to bed.
- Use only sturdy tree stands designed not to tip over. Keep curious pets and children away from Christmas trees.
- Designate one person to walk around your home to make sure that all candles and smoking materials are properly extinguished after guests leave.
- Install smoke alarms on every level of the home and outside each sleeping area. Put a smoke alarm inside every bedroom. Test them regularly and install a new battery if there is no noise when testing. Install new batteries every year. Get new smoke alarms every ten years.
- Never smoke in bed.
- Develop a fire escape plan for the household and practice it at least twice a year. Everyone should know two ways to escape from every room and you should designate a safe place to meet outside the home in case of a fire.
The Red Cross Helps – and So Can You The Red Cross is committed to teaching people the skills they need to prevent home fires, and helping people recover after a fire happens. All Red Cross disaster assistance is free to those in need because of the generous donations from people like you. Help your neighbors recover from disasters like home fires by making a tax-deductible donation to the Red Cross.
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