Red Cross Urges Caution Heating Homes As Weather Gets Colder

Click for a PDF on Home Fires and what you need to know.

As temperatures start to dip across the Rock River Valley, the American Red Cross Rock River Chapter urges families to be cautious when using space heaters and other heating sources. They are the leading cause of residential fires during the fall and winter months. Heat sources such as space heaters, fireplaces or wood/coal stoves pose a serious fire hazard.

During National Fire Prevention Week, October 5-11, the Red Cross encourages local residents to be better prepared. To prevent heating related fires, the Red Cross recommends keeping all potential fuel sources like newspapers, matches, bedding and clothing, at least three feet away from fireplaces and wood stoves. Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended.

First, check to make sure that all of your home’s smoke alarms are in good condition. Smoke alarms should be installed outside of each sleeping area and on each level of your home. If you sleep with bedroom doors closed, you should also install an alarm in each bedroom. Use the test button to check your alarms once a month. The batteries should be replaced once a year.

In addition to having working smoke alarms, one of the easiest ways you can prepare is to develop and practice an emergency escape plan so that every family member can get outside quickly and safely. The plan should include at least two escape routes for every room in the home, and a convenient meeting place at a safe distance from a fire.

Red Cross Fire Safety Tips:

  • Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  • Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs, or carpets or near bedding or drapes.
  • Remember to follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions on regarding the use of all heating equipment. Keep all potential fuel sources (newspapers, matches, bedding, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heat sources – space heaters, fireplaces, and stoves.
  • 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.

Support Your Local Red Cross

The Red Cross depends on the generous support of Rock River Valley residents to respond to our neighbors who are affected by residential fires. You can help the Red Cross be ready to respond and help fire victims by making a financial contribution to the American Red Cross Rock River Chapter.

To make a financial donation please mail a check to American Red Cross Rock River Chapter at 727 N. Church Street, Rockford, IL 61103 or call (815) 963-8471, or donate on-line at


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