As colder weather settles in, at a time when home heating fires typically increase, the Atlanta Red Cross urges families to take precautions now and throughout the year. “Colder weather has arrived in Georgia and, unfortunately, we’re starting to see an increase in the number of home fires,” said Eva Coffey, Chapter Emergency Operations, North GA American Red Cross, Georgia Region. “Taking simple steps like properly using heating sources, installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and developing and practicing a fire escape plan can make a critical difference in saving lives, homes and workplaces.”
Every 82 seconds a home fire breaks out, according to the National Fire Protection Agency. Fires can cause irreparable damage to homes and businesses displacing families and employees. During its last fiscal year, the Atlanta Red Cross responded to 711 home fires and provided comfort and basic necessities to those affected. During October of this year, which is generally when home fires begin to increase, the Red Cross provided emergency food, clothing and shelter to 339 people. Coffey adds, “Everyone at home, school and work should know what to do when they hear the sound of a smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector.”
Follow these safety recommendations:
- Install smoke alarms on every level of the house and inside bedrooms.
- Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year. Test each alarm monthly by pushing the test button.
- Ensure that household members know two ways to escape from every room and designate a place to meet outside of your house in case of a fire. Practice your plan at least twice a year.
Additional recommendations include:
- Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas (avoid corners where air does not circulate). Test the alarm every month.
- Have heating systems (including chimneys and vents) inspected and serviced annually, checking for blockages, corrosion, and partial and complete disconnections.
- Never use a generator, grill or camp stove inside a home, garage or basement.
- Do not use gas appliances such as ranges, ovens or clothes dryers to heat your home.
- Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, and confusion. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, move quickly to a fresh air location, and then call 9-1-1.
- Treat the alarm signal as a real emergency each time. If the alarm sounds and you are not experiencing any symptoms described above, press the reset button. If the alarm continues to sound, call the fire department.
Follow your escape plan in case of fire. Get out, stay out, and call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number. Visit www.redcross.org/homefires for additional fire safety tips.
Business, too, should be prepared. Fire is the most common of all business disasters. Companies, schools and other organizations can learn how to prepare for fires and other emergencies by becoming a member of the Red Cross Ready Rating™ Program at www.readyrating.org. Complete a free, online assessment of your current readiness level and receive customized feedback with tips to improve preparedness.
“In order to continue responding to disasters like fires at homes and businesses here in Atlanta, the Red Cross depends on the generous support of individuals and businesses in the community,” added Coffey.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission.
The Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter empowers neighbors in 13 counties – Butts, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Newton, Paulding and Rockdale – to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies, and ensures the delivery of vital services in Georgia through a statewide Red Cross network. The chapter/Georgia Region headquarters is located at 1955 Monroe Dr. NE, Atlanta, Georgia. For more information visit atlantaredcross.org or call 404-876-3302.