Red Cross urges fire safety for holidays

Thu, 12/18/2008 - 10:57am
By: The Citizen

As the holiday season moves into full swing, the Atlanta Red Cross urges families to follow simple safety tips to keep the season merry and to prevent holiday fires. During the winter holiday season, the incidence and severity of home fires dramatically increases.

In fact, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, each year nearly 47,000 fires occur nationally during the holidays claiming more than 500 lives, causing more than 2,200 injuries, and costing $554 million in property damage. Many of these fires are caused by home heating sources, unattended cooking and candles.

“Many home fires can be prevented and that’s what makes this type of disaster so devastating,” said Stephanie Wright, manager of disaster response for the Metro Atlanta Red Cross. “The holidays should be a time of celebration, and by following a few quick safety tips you can keep your family’s festivities from going up in smoke.”

To prevent holiday home fires, the Red Cross recommends keeping all potential fuel sources, including decorations and evergreen trees and wreaths, at least three feet from heat sources such as candles, heat vents, fireplaces and radiators. In addition, holiday lights and candles need to be turned off or extinguished before leaving the room, going to bed, or leaving home. If you are entertaining guests, designate a responsible family member to walk around your home ensuring that candles and smoking materials are properly extinguished once guests leave.

“We typically see an increase in home fires when temperatures drop,” said Wright. “Since October 1 of this year, the Atlanta Red Cross has provided emergency assistance to more than 300 families following devastating home fires. In addition to following safety precautions with holiday lights and decorations, this is a great time for all families to make sure that their smoke alarms are functioning properly, and to practice their home fire escape plan,” added Wright.

At a minimum, smoke alarms need to be installed outside of each sleeping area and on each level of your home. If you sleep with closed doors, install alarms inside sleeping areas too. Use the test button to test each smoke alarm once a month. All smoke alarm batteries need to be replaced once a year.

Fire escape plans should include at least two escape routes for every room in the home. Also chose a convenient meeting place at a safe distance from your home. Practice your escape plan at least twice a year with all family members.

The Red Cross depends upon the generous support of Atlanta area residents to respond to our neighbors who are affected by home fires. You can help the Red Cross continue to be ready to respond and help fire victims by making a financial contribution to the Atlanta Red Cross today.

For more Red Cross fire safety and preparedness information or to make a financial donation, visit , or mail a check to American Red Cross, P.O. Box 101508, Atlanta, GA 30392-1508

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