KENNEWICK, WA. - During National Home Fire Prevention Week, the American Red Cross wants to families to know the best way to prevent the majority of house fires.
The Red Cross says the biggest disaster threat isn't floods, hurricanes or tornadoes; it's fire. Directors say house fires can strike quickly and without warning, devastating lives and property, but unlike other disasters, most can be prevented.
"As temperatures start to dip across our region, it's important for families to be cautious when using space heaters and other heating sources, and to make a plan in case of a home fire," said Regional Emergency Services Director Martha Read.
Read says heating sources such as space heaters, fireplaces or wood and coal stoves are the leading cause of fires, especially during the winter months.
Last year the Red Cross chapters throughout Eastern Washington responded to more than 400 home fires - an average of one every 21 hours. The Red Cross also provided emergency disaster relief, including temporary housing and assistance replacing food, clothing, medication, and other items that were lost in fires.
To reduce the risk of heating-related fires, the 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.
For more Red Cross fire safety and preparedness information, click here or go to www.redcross.org/homefires