EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — When it comes to getting your home ready for winter, you may be thinking about the snow and the cold. But the American Red Cross is urging people to take steps to prevent another potential threat.
When temperatures drop, the risk of house fires climbs as people spend more time indoors. In fact, data shows there are 27% more house fires from November to March than in warmer months, according to the Red Cross.
The Rhode Island chapter of the Red Cross says on average, they respond to one fire each day, but that number tends to increase during the colder months.
Jocelyn Hillard, the organization’s regional communications director, said the leading causes of house fires during the winter months are cooking and heating equipment.
That’s why, as part of Fire Prevention Week, she’s encouraging Southern New Englanders to take action now.
“Make a habit to test the smoke alarms monthly and make sure those batteries are working,” she said.
The Red Cross recommends having smoke alarms on each level of your home. The batteries should be changed out at least once a year, and also be sure to check the manufacturer’s date, since aging devices can become less reliable.
Hillard also stressed the importance of creating and practicing an escape plan for your family.
“Home fire experts agree that you may have up to two minutes to escape your home, and should there be an emergency in your home – every second counts,” she said.
As part of your plan, Hillard said to include at least two ways to exit every room and select a meeting spot a safe distance away from your home.
She also suggested familiarizing yourself with your home and belongings, and communicating with your local fire department.
“As we get around Thanksgiving or around holiday decorating, these are the times that we see fires unfortunately,” Hillard added. “The more that we can do to prepare people today, that’s potentially more lives saved.”