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American Red Cross asks Arkansans to stay fire safe during cold weather

As winter weather has entered the state, forecasts for plunging temperatures and freezing precipitation could cause power outages.

The American Red Cross in Arkansas is concerned about the prospect of residential fires.

“We’ve already seen an increase in home fires with the start of the Thanksgiving holidays,” stated American Red Cross in Arkansas Disaster Director Roger Elliot. “We still remember the increase in homes fires during the Christmas power outage last December from use of fireplaces that had not been inspected and unfortunately resulted in destroyed homes.”

With the usual increase in fires during the holidays and the addition of a winter storm, the Red Cross is urging Arkansans to increase their fire safety.

The following tips can help minimize the risk for fires in homes and apartments:

- Do not use fireplaces and heating units that have not been professionally checked.

- All heaters need space. Keep things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture as

well as pets and people, at least three feet away from fireplaces, stoves and space heaters.

- Place portable space heaters on a hard, level, nonflammable surface. Do not put space heaters on rugs or carpets, near bedding or drapes, and keep children and pets away. Look for a model that shuts off automatically if the space heater tips over.

- Do not use heating equipment to dry wet clothing.

- Never use the stove or oven to heat your home.

- Never leave portable heaters, wood burning stoves or fireplaces unattended. Turn them off before leaving or going to bed.

- - Keep the fire in the fireplace by using a glass or metal screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.

“I hope everyone has a working fire alarm and a fire evacuation plan at home,’ stated Disaster Director Roger Elliott. “A fire alarm is always your first line of fire safety defense.”

In the event of power outages the following tips are recommended:

- Never use a generator inside a home, garage, basement or crawlspace or any partially enclosed area.

- Keep an ice filled cooler and digital quick response thermometer on hand to preserve your food.

- When using a portable generator, do not connect it to your home’s electrical system.

- Always read, follow and maintain generator according to manufacturer’s operating instructions.

For more tips on generators and preparing for power outages check your American Red Cross

Tornado App under Prepare: Right Before and During. Visit redcross.org/arkansas; like the organization on

Facebook and follow them on Twitter@RedCrossArkansas.

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