Local Red Cross offers home safety tips to prevent fires - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Local Red Cross offers home safety tips to prevent fires

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As cooler temperatures sweep through the Tennessee Valley, more house fires are on the rise.

This weekend, a series of house fires some sparked, which firefighters say space heaters and other heat sources are to blame for some. Usually home heating equipment fires are reported during the winter months; December, January, and February, which is the peak season for the Greater Chattanooga Area American Red Cross.

READ MORE | Chattanooga house fire that displaced family of 7 ruled accidental

But with more fires sparking now, members are urging you to take precaution, and realize the severity of house fires.

"Often you have less than two minutes to escape a fire so early detection is really important for the safety of your family," said Julia Wright, Executive Director of the Southeast, TN Red Cross chapter.

Wright has worked for Red Cross for the past 16 years, so fires are nothing new to her.

But helping families, like the Dews, who lost their home Saturday to a fire that sparked from clothes and a plastic container placed too close to a baseboard heater, is something she will never get used to.

"We see this unfortunately over 250 times a year just in southeast Tennessee with families that are losing much more than sometimes their homes but sometimes much more," Wright said.

But Wright explains there little things can prevent big fires, especially when it comes to portable heaters and other heating equipment.

"You want to make sure that you're having your chimney cleaned if you have a fireplace, to space heaters where you want to make sure you abide by the three foot rule and keep any flammable source away from that heat within three feet," Wright said.

Making sure you have working smoke detectors, and an emergency escape plan can also make a difference.

"You need to know what your escape from every room of the home would be and where you would meet up with your family so you know everyone made it out safely."

Over the next couple of weeks the local Red Cross will be kicking off their Home Fire Campaign, which helps families prepare for home fires. Volunteers will partner with local fire departments and visit neighborhoods to install or check smoke detectors, and discuss emergency escape plans with families.

Click here for more safety tips from Red Cross on how to prevent home fires.

The Chattanooga Fire Department is also sharing tips:

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month.
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