Cold weather and the holiday season often bring an increase in home fires across Alaska. Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fires overall, unattended cooking is the most common cause of kitchen fires, and decorations like trees, lights and candles increase the risk of home fires during the holidays. The Red Cross of Alaska reminds everyone to be cautious this season and offers the following tips on home heating, cooking and holiday decorating safety.
HOME HEATING SAFETY
- All heating equipment needs at least three feet of space. Keep away children, pets and things that can burn, such as paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets and rugs.
- If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface. Don’t place it on rugs and carpets, or near bedding and curtains. Turn it off every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.
- Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
- Clear the area around the stove before turning on the heat. Move items that can burn away from the stove, including towels, bags, boxes, paper and curtains.
- Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the stove and turn pot handles to the back of the stove, so no one bumps them or pulls them over. Download the American Red Cross First Aid App and review how to treat burns ahead of time.
- Keep an eye on what you fry. Stay in the kitchen, use a timer to remind yourself that the stove or oven is on, and never leave cooking food unattended. If you must leave the kitchen, even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.
- Check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving home to ensure all stoves, ovens and small appliances are turned off.
HOLIDAY DECORATING SAFETY
- When decorating outside, make sure decorations are for outdoor use and fasten lights securely. If using hooks or nails outside, make sure they are insulated to avoid an electrocution or fire hazard.
- Use battery-operated candles when possible. If you must use candles, never leave them unattended, keep them away from anything that could burn, and place them out of reach of children and pets.
- Check all holiday light cords to make sure they aren’t frayed or broken. Don’t string too many strands of lights together — no more than three per extension cord.
- Turn off all holiday lights when going to bed or leaving the house.
Home fires take more lives each year than all other natural disasters in the U.S. combined, and fire experts agree that you may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home. In addition to heating, cooking and decorating precautions, you can help your family stay safe by practicing your home fire escape plan at least twice a year until everyone can escape in two minutes or less, and by testing your smoke alarms monthly.
For more free home fire safety resources, visit redcross.org/homefires or download the free Red Cross Emergency App by searching for “American Red Cross” in mobile phone app stores.