Use space heaters and other heating sources safely. Follow these fire prevention tips to ensure you and your loved ones stay safe and warm.
- Keep things three feet from the heat. Keep children, pets and things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, draperies, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.
- If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as a ceramic tile floor) – not on rugs, carpets, near bedding or drapes.
- Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.
- Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces and chimneys inspected annually by a professional and cleaned if necessary.
- Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended, and 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.
- Use flashlights, not candles.
For households with children, the Red Cross Monster Guard app is an entertaining way for kids to learn about safety while having fun. People should also download the Red Cross Emergency app for additional information on safety and what to do in an emergency. Both apps are available in your favorite app store or through redcross.org/mobileapps.
Winter storms have other risks besides home fires, and Red Cross urges people to stay safe by following some other basic safety rules:
If the power goes out.
- Do not use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning device inside the home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
- Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, which are headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, and confusion. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, move quickly to a fresh air location, and then call 9-1-1
- Do not hook a generator up to the home’s wiring. People should connect the equipment they need to power directly to the outlets on the generator.
- Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Use perishable food from the fridge first, then use food from the freezer. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours. A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours if the door remains closed.
- If it looks like the power will be out for more than a day, prepare a cooler with ice for freezer items. Keep food covered in a dry, cool spot.
- If you have a carbon monoxide alarm, treat the alarm signal as a real emergency each time: get to fresh air by moving outdoors, or near an open window or an open door. Make sure everyone in the home gets to fresh air, and then call 9-1-1 from a fresh air location.
Support the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign and help people affected by disasters by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Donate by going to redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.