Red Cross Offers Cold Weather and Heating Safety Tips

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 When it gets cold out, the number of home fires increases so with temperatures expected to drop below freezing across most of our area the next couple days, the American Red Cross is urging residents to take precautions for the cold weather and proper heating.

Heating Safety Tips:

  • Test batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning device inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace, or any partially enclosed area.
  • If using a generator outside, be sure to follow all instructions.
  • Use portable space heaters with an automatic shut-off so if the tip over, they will shut off.
  • Keep at least 3 feet of space between a heater and combustibles such as furniture, curtains, bedding, which includes pet bedding, and papers.
  • Inspect heaters for cracked or damaged cords, broken plugs, or loose connections. Replace any before using the space heater.
  • Turn heaters off when not in use or when leaving the room.
  • Have chimney and woodstove flues and vents inspected and cleaned every year before using. Check for creosote deposits, soot build-up, and physical damage.
  • Always use a fireplace screen made of sturdy metal or heat-tempered glass to prevent sparks from escaping.
  • Clear the area around the heart of debris, decorations and flammable materials.
  • Store kindling, fire logs, and wood at least 3 feet from any heat source.
  • Use proper fire starters designed for indoor use. Never use flammable liquid, such as lighter fluid, kerosene, or gasoline to start a fire.

Cold Weather Safety:

  • Have an emergency supply kit ready. The kit should include at a minimum: a 3-day supply of food and water per person, flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, and extra batteries. For full list of recommended items, visit
  • Keep your cellphone charged.
  • In case of power outage, use flashlights or lanterns instead of candles because of potential fire hazard. If you do use candles, never leave unattended. Make sure flashlights are available throughout the house with fresh batteries.
  • Have plenty of blankets and warm clothing available should you be without hear for an extended period of time.
  • Protect your pipes: Run water at a trickle to help prevent pipes from freezing.
  • If going outside, wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep your feet warm and dry; dress appropriately with layers, and wear hats and gloves.
  • Select a place for family members to meet outside your neighborhood in case you cannot get home or need to evacuate.

Pet Safety:

  • Bring pets indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to non-frozen drinking water.
  • If animals are outside, make sure their access to food and water is not blocked by snow drifts, ice or other obstacles.
  • If pets cannot come indoors, make sure they are protected by a dry, draft-free enclosure large enough to allow them to sit and lie down, but small enough to hold in the pet’s body heat. Raise the floor a few inches off the ground and cover it with cedar shavings or straw. Turn the enclosure away from the wind and cover the doorway with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.

Emergency Apps:

  • Download the free Red Cross Emergency App to select up to 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts on your mobile device. Search your smartphone app store or visit
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