GA Red Cross offers home fire prevention tips following Bronx fire

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, January 12, 2022

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In light of the fire tragedy this past weekend in the Bronx that claimed the lives of 19 people, including nine children, the Georgia Red Cross wants to help keep communities safe by offering the following fire prevention tips:

  • Test your smoke alarms monthly. Working smoke alarms can cut the risk of dying in a home fire by half.
  • Place smoke alarms on each level of your home, and inside and outside bedrooms and sleeping areas. Change the batteries at least once a year, if your model requires it.
  • Also, check the manufacturer’s date of your smoke alarms. If they’re 10 years or older, they need to be replaced because the sensor becomes less sensitive over time. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Practice your escape plan until everyone can get out in less than two minutes.
  • To create your home fire escape plan, include at least two ways to exit every room in your home.
  • Select a meeting spot at a safe distance away from your home, such as your neighbor’s home or landmark like a specific tree in your front yard, where everyone knows to meet.
  • Teach children what a smoke alarm sounds like. Talk about fire safety and what to do in an emergency.

According to a press release from the Georgia Red Cross, its volunteers have responded to 83 home fires across the state so far this month, and 56 people have lost their lives in the state, including five children.

The 2021 calendar year was also a busy year for the Georgia Red Cross, responding to 2,903 home fires and providing 11,710 people impacted by these events with emotional support, help with immediate emergency needs for lodging, food, clothing, personal care items, and other essentials.

Home fires claim seven lives across the U.S. each day, which can be prevented through the following steps:

  • Have furnaces, chimneys, fireplaces, wood and coal stoves inspected and cleaned before another winter of use.
  • If using a space heater, look for a model that shuts off automatically if the heater falls over.
  • Place the heater on a level, hard and nonflammable surface in the home.
  • Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves or fireplaces.
  • Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.
  • 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 large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
  • Test batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

With people many of us spending more time at home, we may be spending more time cooking meals. Cooking is the leading cause of U.S. home fires. Here are the top eight ways to avoid a cooking fire:

  • Keep an eye on what you fry. Never leave cooking food unattended. If you must leave the kitchen, even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • Move items that can burn away from the stove. This includes dishtowels, bags, boxes, paper and curtains.
  • Keep and pets at least three feet away.
  • Avoid wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking.
  • When frying food, turn the burner off if you see smoke or if the grease starts to boil. Carefully remove the pan from the burner.
  • Keep a pan lid or a cookie sheet nearby. Use it to cover the pan if it catches on fire. This will put out the fire. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
  • Turn pot handles to the back of the stove, so no one bumps them or pulls them over.
  • Use a timer to remind yourself that the stove or oven is on.
  • Check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving home to ensure all stoves, ovens and small appliances are turned off.