Red Cross of North Louisiana urges fire safety during fall/winter

The Red Cross of North Louisiana is urging fire safety during these cooler months.
Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 9:24 AM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - With cooler fall temperatures, the American Red Cross of North Louisiana is urging people to be safe.

Many people will be reaching for space heaters, heating blankets, or starting the fireplace, but that can be a recipe for disaster.

“It’s like a 29% increase in fires this time of year. You know, because people are using space heaters and other things,” says Wanda Foust, a recruiter with the North Louisiana Chapter of the Red Cross.

From Jan. - Sept. of this year, the Red Cross has responded to at least 407 fires in the north region.

“We have responders that go out to assist those families and we try to provide vouchers for them, some clothing, some food, the essentials that they need like medicines and stuff like that,” says Foust.

Last year, they responded to about 450 fires in total. Those numbers are why they’re urging people to be careful with space heaters.

“Plug them directly into a socket, do not use an extension cord,” explains Foust. “Keep it away from anything with fabric because, like I said, they’re just a tool to bring extra heat they’re not meant to heat your whole house.”

And she says to make sure you don’t leave the home with heaters or devices plugged in and on.

If you have a fireplace, make sure to check that it’s working correctly before you use it.

“You need to get it cleaned out every so often. People don’t even think about that,” says Foust. “Like me right now, I’m fixing to going to have to hire a chimney sweep to come out and make sure my home is safe because with the fuel prices increasing people are going to do what they can.”

Foust says on average, people only have about two minutes to get out of a fire and mobile homes tend to go up in flames quicker than site-built homes. She says you’ve got to stay vigilant around candles and anything cooking in the kitchen.

“There’s just so many distractions, Pay attention while you’re doing things in the kitchen. You know, when it comes to fire because that one look away and it could go up in flames,” says Foust. “You need to have two exits and also educate your children about that too if you can’t get out the back just get out of the house and stay out whatever you do, do not go back inside that house fire. Make sure that everyone has a meeting place so everyone can be accounted for.”

Fire prevention is a huge part of the Red Cross mission. In Jan., volunteers will go door to door in their Sound the Alarm campaign, making sure people have working smoke alarms. If not, they’ll install them for free. Foust says you always want to have at least three working smoke alarms in a home and test them frequently.

“Smoke alarms do save lives, just since we’ve started the Sound the Alarm campaign, I know it’s been documented that we’ve saved over 1,400 lives and 27 of those were here in Louisiana,” explains Foust.