Red Cross warns about number of fires in St. Louis, statewide in recent days

Organization gives tips for how to prevent fires

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The Red Cross provided meals for families affected by the wildfires in Oregon in 2020.

With colder weather and families gathered for the holidays, the American Red Cross of Greater St. Louis has responded to an increasing number of home fires in recent days — more than three times the number seen last year. Some of those fires have been in South County.

“Our teams have responded to help more than 110 people following home fires in the Greater St. Louis metro just since December 25,” said Chris Harmon, Red Cross regional disaster officer. “We provide immediate assistance following home fires including emergency lodging, support for food and clothing and other urgent needs, and help with recovery planning.”

Statewide, the Red Cross has assisted more than 350 people since Dec. 25, 2020 which includes adjoining metro counties in Illinois (Greater St. Louis metro) and in Kansas (the Greater KC metro).

For comparison, for the same timeframe last year (Dec. 25, 2019 to Jan. 3. 2020), the Red Cross assisted approximately 80 people in the Greater St. Louis area following home fires and approximately 200 statewide including adjoining metro counties in Illinois and Kansas.

The Red Cross recommends the following fire prevention measures:

Safe home heating:

  • Provide at least 3 feet of space for all heating equipment, and never leave space heaters unattended.
  • Place space heaters on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, such as a ceramic tile floor. Don’t place it on rugs and carpets, or near bedding and drapes; keep away children and pets.
  • Plug space heater power cords directly into outlets — never into an extension cord. Turn it off every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  • Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
  • Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces and chimneys inspected annually by a professional and cleaned if necessary.

Smoke alarms and fire escape plans: To help protect your family year-round, test your smoke alarms monthly and practice your home fire escape plan until everyone can escape in less than two minutes — the amount of time you may have to get out of a burning home before it’s too late. Visit redcross.org/fire for more information, including an escape plan to practice with your family.

Fire prevention and safety checklist: https://www.redcross.org/content/dam/redcross/atg/Chapters/Division_2/Orange_County/PDFs/Fire_Prevention___Safety_-_English.pdf  (Also available in Spanish).

Home Fire escape plan: https://www.redcross.org/content/dam/redcross/get-help/fire-safety/Home-Fire-Escape-Plan-English-Spanish.pdf

Download the free Red Cross Emergency app: search “American Red Cross” in app stores.

How to help: Individuals wishing to get involved with the Red Cross as a volunteer, financial donor, or blood donor,  may go to www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RedCross for more information.