Red Cross urges precautions to stem spike in house fires

Published Jan 3, 2018 at 4:00pm

The intense cold over the past two weeks has led to a significant spike in house fires for the end of 2017, according to officials with the American Red Cross.

In the eastern half of New York State, Red Cross officials said they responded to 24 house fires and assisted more than 80 residents between Dec. 25 and 31.

This was more than double the number of fires in the same week of 2016, and more than triple the number of fires from the same week of 2015, the Red Cross added.

The agency has tips and advice to help prevent fires during these frigid days:

• Keep all potential sources of fuel — paper, clothing, bedding, curtains, rugs — at least three feet away from sources of heat.

• Never leave portable heaters or fireplaces unattended.

• Place any space heater on a level, solid, nonflammable surface. Look for models that shut off automatically if the heater falls over.

• Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.

• Keep children and pets away from space heaters.

• Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.

• Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen.

• Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, and chimneys inspected and cleaned annually by a professional.

• Install and test smoke alarms on each level of your home, near sleeping areas and inside and outside of bedrooms if you sleep with doors closed.