Grand Island, NE, December 28, 2017 – Nearly half of American families use alternative heating sources
such as space heaters, fireplaces, or wood/coal stoves to stay warm this time of year.
Fixed and portable
space heaters, including wood stoves are a leading cause of home fires, and are involved in 74-percent of fire
related deaths. Carbon monoxide is also a killer, and each year over 200 people die from carbon monoxide
produced by fuel burning appliances in the home including furnaces, ranges, water heaters, and room
“Eighty percent of Americans don’t realize that home fires are the single most common disaster across the
nation,” said Rachelle Lipker, Executive Director for the Central and Western Nebraska Chapter of the
American Red Cross. “People can reduce their family’s risk of being harmed in a home fire by using
alternative heating sources safely, and by installing smoke alarms on every level of their home.”
Seven times a day someone in the U.S. dies in a fire. Red Cross volunteers have responded to over 80 home
fires just this past year in the Central and Western Nebraska Chapter area. The Red Cross is working to
reduce the number of fires by calling attention to winter heating safety, as well as proper installation and
testing of smoke alarms. In addition, families and individuals are also encouraged to develop and practice a
home fire escape plan.
SIMPLE STEPS TO SAVE LIVES — The Red Cross is calling on everyone to take steps that can save lives,
especially during the winter months when home fires are more common:
• Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding 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.
• 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. Keep children and pets away from space
• When buying a space heater, look for models that shut off automatically if the heater falls over as
another safety measure.
• 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
• Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, chimneys, and furnaces professionally inspected and cleaned
once a year.
• Install smoke alarms. At a minimum, put one on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and
outside sleeping areas.
• Make sure that everyone in the family knows how to get out of every room and how to get out of the
home in less than two minutes.
• Install a carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home.
• Practice the fire escape plan, and keep track of the time it takes. It should be not more than two