A cold front is sweeping over Central Texas. Keeping our families safe and warm during the cold winter weather is always a top priority. But if you plan to use alternate heating sources, you may be putting your family at risk of fire. In fact, our home fire responses spike drastically during the cold winter months because of heating mishaps. This winter, the Red Cross urges Central Texas residents to take some steps to reduce the risk of heating-related fires.
All heaters need space. Keep all things that can burn such as paper, matches, bedding, furniture and clothing, at least three feet away from heating equipment. Turn off space heaters when you go to bed or leave the room. Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord. Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home. Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional.
Also, every home needs two important things: a working smoke alarm on every level of the residence and inside all bedrooms, as well as a fire escape plan so that every family member knows how to get out of harms way quickly. The plan should identify at least two exits from every room and a place to meet outside that is located a safe distance from your home.
If a fire does occur, the Red Cross will be there. Last year the Red Cross of Central Texas responded to more than 400 home fires, providing food, shelter and emotional support to the families affected.
To learn more about how you can reduce your risk of home fires and help your neighbors recover after a fire, visit www.redcross.org/homefires.
In addition to heating and home fire safety, the Red Cross encourages families to watch more than just the Turkey this Thanksgiving.
Millions of Americans will be preparing meals and traveling throughout the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The we have some safety tips for both the kitchen and the highway.
COOKING SAFETY Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and related injuries. Follow these safety tips:
- Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the cooking area.
- Clean all cooking surfaces to prevent grease buildup.
- Stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling or broiling food. Turn burners off if leaving the kitchen.
- Keep a pan lid or baking sheet nearby. Use it to cover the pan if it catches on fire.
- Place turkey fryers outside and away from the house, deck and garage.
TRAVEL SAFETY Vehicles should be in good working order before heading out. Remember to:
- Pack emergency supplies like blankets, water and snacks, flashlight and first aid kit.
- Fill the fuel tank, check air pressure in tires and top-off windshield fluid.
- Buckle up and obey all traffic signs.
- Avoid distractions while driving like using mobile phones to talk or text.
- Designate a driver who won’t be drinking whenever alcohol is served.
The Red Cross has a variety of emergency supplies and first aid kits available at redcrossstore.org.
KNOW HOW TO TREAT EMERGENCIES People can learn how to respond to emergencies by downloading the free American Red Cross First Aid App. Users receive instant access to expert advice whenever and wherever they need it. The app is available in the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/mobileapps.