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Red Cross Urges Caution as Weather Gets Colder

October 18, 2011

As the temperatures start to chill across the midcoast region, the American Red Cross urges families to be cautious when using space heaters and other heat sources, and to make a plan in case of a home fire. Heat sources are the leading cause of home fires and the number of fires often increases dramatically during the winter months. 

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. 

“Last year, the Mid Coast Chapter responded to the emergency needs of 124 children and adults left homeless when their homes were damaged or destroyed by fires.   We have already responded to fires in Westport Island, Waldoboro, Richmond and an eleven-unit apartment building in Thomaston,” said Connie Jones, executive director of the Mid Coast Chapter.  “But the good news is that there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of a home fire.”

The American Red Cross offers the following fire prevention tips:

  • All heaters need 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, 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.
  • 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.
  • If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs, or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.

The Red Cross depends on the generous support of midcoast area residents to be ready to respond and help our neighbors who are affected by home fires and other disasters. You can help your neighbors recover from devastating disasters by making a tax-deductible donation today. To make a financial donation of support or for more information about how to become a Red Cross disaster volunteer, please contact us at www.maineredcross.org, or call the Mid Coast Chapter at 729-6779.

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